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Study Suggests We Can Control Our Memory

July 21, 2011 by  

Waldhauser's findings suggest that the same way people can train their brains not to touch something hot, they can also train themselves not to remember specific events. A new study has found that people may be able to control what they can and cannot remember. Psychology researcher Gerd Thomas Waldhauser put Freud’s age-old assertion that we control our memories to the test and discovered that despite past beliefs, it appears people may have the ability to decide what information they retain.

Waldhauser’s findings suggest that the same way people can train their brains not to touch something hot, they can also train themselves not to remember specific events. Study participants were asked to actively try to forget something as Waldhauser measured their brain activity. What he discovered was that the parts of the brain that control motor impulses were active as people attempted to forget something.

According to Waldhauser, this could lead to possible treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental conditions associated with traumatic events. However, he stressed that the study participants were asked to forget neutral information, and further research needs to be conducted to determine how people could be trained to forget disturbing parts of their past.

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  • DanB

    Cool. So with time I might be able to not only control what I forget, but also control what I remember? See, I probably do some of this already. Probably why I forget names and faces but can remember a collectible/trading card game I played. Or why I cannot remember dates of historic events but I can remember some of the trigger events. The date I choose to forget, but I choose to remember the archduke Ferdinand moment itself. What day it happened doesn’t matter to me, but what resulted because of it does. And perhaps understanding what conditions helped make things so volatile (unfortunately, grade school history was focused on names and dates–mostly dates–so I haven’t been learning most of this side of history–the stuff I actually care to remember–until I started browsing conservative websites).

  • paintbrushbright

    I am more interested in recall than control. My brain’s filing cabinet seems to be out of order. Someone needs to figure out how to reorginize the files. Some of the files are locked up and I have lost the key. I need a locksmith or a good hacker.

    • Bob Marshall

      Thanks for the humor! Made my day!

  • C130 Gunship

    I can’t wait for all the holistic and Chinese herb aficionados to chime in on this one, c’mon entertain me!!!!

    Ginkgo Biloba-there, I’ll start it…..

    • paintbrushbright

      Gunny—Forget the Chinese herbs-buy American! All you need is a bottle of good Kentucky bourbon to bring all those forgotten memories back..

  • paintbrushbright

    Time has something to do with memory. I am pushing 70 and noticed my short term memory is getting bad. A lot of times I have a hard time remembering what I did yesterday. I find that my long term memory has improved. I can remember things I did as a child with amazing detail. I have never thought about any of those things before. I have spoke to other people in my age bracket and they tell me they are experencing the same thing.

    • Bert Cundle

      It must have some connection to age… Some have a larger memory bank
      My low mega byte, brain wants to up grade to a Tiga Byte, but the only way I can remember what I want to remember is to Repeat it Hundreds of times… But I Forget to Repeat, it! Names bad… Personas Good… Faces good!

    • hicusdicus

      I am 75 and I and my hard drive is full of crap that I would really like to forget. I do not want to remember anything that does not help make my life more tolerable. The internet as exponentially raised the bull level of everything.

  • Dan az

    I was going to post something but forgot what I was going to say! :)

    • paintbrushbright

      After fifty years I found my best buddy on a internet search. He came down to Ky. on his vacation for a visit. We sit down with a cold beer and starting talking about our teenage adventures. It was amazing how the key words we mentioned bought back things I would never had remembered without talking to my friend. It kick started me to think about things to ask and he recalled memories that opened my memory.

      • Dan az

        Paint
        That’s cool.I found an old service buddy the same way. :)

      • C130 Gunship

        paintbrushbright………….Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!!!

        • paintbrushbright

          Gunship thats why they call us grampa’s storytellers.

        • paintbrushbright

          A lot of us old veterns did a demolision on the bridges that carried memorys we wanted to forget about. I think a lot of good memorys were on that road and when we blew up the bridge we took out the good memorys with friendly fire.

          • paintbrushbright

            Now that I am much older I recently recalled some bad memories that I carried with me for years. Death and destruction was not revisited for years and I really could not handle it years ago. I sit down one night while writing a short story and did a complete recall. I cried several times but came through it OK. It was a relief and seemed to open my mine up to a lot of good times with friends while I was in the service. A man need not hide his wounded memory. The wound must be uncovered to heal.

      • hicusdicus

        I have discovered that smoking a little pot will will bring up recollections of all the good munchies trapped in the refrigerator waiting fore me to taste.

  • FlaJim

    Makes you wonder how much it cost us (government grant) to find out what we already know. We all block certain memories because otherwise, we’d go crazy. It’s a normal brain’s function to do this.

    Perhaps more males than females are able to do this because of our superior ability to compartmentalize. What drives me nuts, however, is when a song or jingle I’ve always hated pops into my head and won’t go away.

    • paintbrushbright

      Does your song go dum ta dum dum like dragnet or is it dum dump p done-dum dump p done like revelile.
      just kidding!

  • Dan az

    And I hailped!

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