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#166358 - 07/12/07 06:08 PM You can forget the unhappy past (?)
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5776
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
This on the Reuters website today:
Ken


You can forget the unhappy past: study
Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:30 PM ET


By Ishani Ganguli

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers have confirmed what common wisdom has long held -- that people can suppress emotionally troubling memories -- and said on Thursday they have sketched out how the brain accomplishes this.

They said their findings might lead to a way to help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety to gain control of debilitating memories.

"You're shutting down parts of the brain that are responsible for supporting memories," said Brendan Depue, a neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado who worked on the study. He said his team discovered the brain's emotional center is also shut down.

For their study, Depue and colleagues taught 18 adult volunteers to associate pictures of human faces with pictures of car crashes or wounded soldiers. They were then shown each face a dozen times and asked to either remember or forget the troubling image associated with each one.

When they worked to block a particular negative image, then looked at the face one last time, they could no longer name its troubling pair in about half of the trials, Depue and his colleagues report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

The researchers used a brain imaging method called functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which shows the brain's activity in real time, to track what was going on in the brain. They got usable data on 16 people.

In the test, parts of each volunteer's prefrontal cortex -- the brain's control center for complex thoughts and actions -- were activated. This seemed to direct a decrease of activity in the visual cortex, where images are usually processed.

The hippocampus, where memories are formed and retrieved, and amygdala, the emotion hub, were later also deactivated.

SUPPRESSION THERAPY?

The research is still far from being translated to the psychiatrist's office, Depue and others acknowledged.

"In the first place, the stimuli may be unpleasant, but they are hardly traumatic," said the University of California Berkeley's John Kihlstrom, who was not involved in the study.

"My prediction is it won't be as easy to suppress something that's long-standing and personally emotional," Depue said.

People with post-traumatic stress disorder are often troubled for decades by recurring images of a harrowing experience.

Still, patients might practice blocking such memories out of their minds, or at least reducing their emotional sting.

"It might be the case that people with memory disturbances have to gain some control over the memory representation by remembering it (and) trying a different emotional response to the memory before successful suppression," Depue said.

A drug targeting specific brain regions might eventually boost the ability to suppress, said John Gabrieli at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For a mother haunted by the memory of her son's suicide, he said, "it is hard to imagine that you'd ever get her to forget that the event occurred. (But) the more you could weaken the memory in any dimension, the better it would be."


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#166378 - 07/12/07 08:24 PM Re: You can forget the unhappy past (?) [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
Thank-you Ken for posting this one. What interests me in this article is the fact that it is now being proven that forgetting such horrific events is indeed possible. Of course I've always known it is possible to suppress/forget the abuse because I did it, but now I feel somewhat vindicated. There are some individuals in the circles I move about in that are avid followers of the "false memory" crowd so this helps me feel like jumping up and down and yelling my fool head off!

Thanks again,

John



Edited by walkingsouth (07/12/07 08:58 PM)
_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#166380 - 07/12/07 08:30 PM Re: You can forget the unhappy past (?) [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Originally Posted By: Reuters
For a mother haunted by the memory of her son's suicide, he said, "it is hard to imagine that you'd ever get her to forget that the event occurred. (But) the more you could weaken the memory in any dimension, the better it would be."


Is that really true? It seems to me that life is full of ecstasy and catastrophe and everything in between. Do I want to have part of my life experience blotted out of my memory on the grounds that it was a torment for me? If I consent to that, isn't it possible that the event will continue to affect me anyway? How will I deal with the effects of that memory if the memory itself is suppressed?

Where CSA is concerned, aren't we the men we are today specifically because we have risen to the challenge of these memories? Am I prepared to accept the idea that it would no longer matter I was raped and trashed for five years as a young boy, if only I could forget that it ever happened? Or is that not what's going on in this process? And if not, why would I want to do it?

I will always remember, and my knowledge that I will remember is not something that frightens me anymore. I am not at peace with this yet, but I will get there too one day.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#168680 - 07/24/07 06:19 AM Re: You can forget the unhappy past (?) [Re: roadrunner]
patch22 Offline
New Here

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 25
Loc: Ireland
Yep Roadrunner, I'm with you. In some ways it's the bits I can't remember that bother me more than the bits I do. We are what we are for a variety of reasons, the abuse a large part of these, and unless we really hate ourselves we have to acknowledge that the past has made us what we are and try to live with it - not always easy!

_________________________
A dog is a man's best therapist

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