Magazine article Science News

Brain May Block out Undesired Memories

Magazine article Science News

Brain May Block out Undesired Memories

Article excerpt

Memory requires collaboration between different brain structures. So does forgetting, a new study suggests.

Two neural regions join forces to enable people to suppress unwanted memories, say psychologist Michael C. Anderson of the University of Oregon in Eugene and his colleagues. The team has scanned the brains of volunteers who were asked to forget previously viewed words. As volunteers try to do so, tissue near the front of their brains, in the prefrontal cortex, dampens activity in the hippocampus, an inner-brain structure required for memory retrieval, Anderson's group finds.

These findings provide a potential brain mechanism for the voluntary form of memory repression originally proposed by Sigmund Freud, the scientists conclude in the Jan. 9 Science. Freud regarded repression as a process in which the motivated forgetting of disturbing or threatening information occurs either unconsciously or with an intentional push.

"Our new findings help to demystify how repression might occur in the brain," Anderson says. The same section of prefrontal cortex now linked to intentional forgetting was previously implicated in the inhibition of learned physical responses.

In the new work, 24 adults studied a long series of written word pairs, such as ordeal and roach. Functional magnetic resonance imaging monitored blood flow in each volunteer's brain as he or she saw one word from each pair and was asked either to recall and think about the associated word or to avoid thinking about it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.