Not all memories are pleasant ones. There are many times when people might want to have something like a memory-erasing pill that they could take to forget an unpleasant event. While there is no effective drug to wipe out memories that someone wants to lose, a new study has found that the memory of a traumatic event, or rather the fear associated with it, may indeed be removed from one’s memory.
The study was initiated by doctoral candidate Thomas Ågren of the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University, under the supervision of Professors Mats Fredrikson and Tomas Furmark. Focusing on the subject of human emotional memories, they were able to determine through experimentation that fear is reinforced not solely by the experience of the event itself, but rather, through the reconsolidation of this experience through the formation of the memory of the event, and the feelings associated with it. This reconsolidation happens every time we remember an event, providing an opportunity to alter the memory itself.
In order to get rid of the fear, therefore, what the researchers did was to impede the process of reconsolidation to the point where the memory no longer elicited fear. The aim was for the researchers to neutralize the memory, so to speak, and to remove the association of fear from that memory.
For Ultimate Memory Software director Marc Slater, this finding is nothing short of a breakthrough. “What this proves is that memory really is a matter of conditioning and reconditioning. People usually think of memory as imprints of an experience. What this study clearly shows is that memory does have a way of embellishing the experience, adding peripheral details, emotions, and other aspects to the basic facts. Sometimes this embellishment actually makes the memory of an otherwise neutral event turn out to seem more sinister and fearful than it actually was.”
This research may lead the way for software developers to come up with a program which can be an even better tool for improving memory. Because developing memory is as much of a mental workout as a recording of experiences, it can be improved upon using specific conditioning methods and techniques. Tapping into this targeted area of memory creation, and re-creation, may soon present a way to not only get rid of fear but to also have a sharper memory of the actual facts, with the least emotional tie-ups, which tend to be more imaginative and creative, and therefore possibly inaccurate.
For more information on how Ultimate Memory software can help, please visit: http://www.ultimatememory.com
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