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.