What is it about?

Intrusive memories of traumatic scenes springing to mind after trauma can be distressing. We showed that intrusive memories can be modified without affecting our ability to voluntarily remember the trauma, and this beneficial effect can be achieved with a brief intervention involving a computer game.

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Why is it important?

It is desirable that interventions are able to reduce distressing aspects of a trauma memory - its intrusiveness - but leaving trauma memory intact, so that for example a trauma victim can still deliberately recall the trauma to report in court.


Media accounts of trauma at times suggest we should seek to 'erase' memories of trauma. Yet memory is not just one single entity - there are many aspects to trauma memory. By being more nuanced about which aspect should be modified and which should be perserved, we can develop more effective and safer solutions to reduce suffering after trauma.

Dr Alex Lau-Zhu
University of Oxford

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Intrusive memories and voluntary memory of a trauma film: Differential effects of a cognitive interference task after encoding., Journal of Experimental Psychology General, April 2019, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xge0000598.
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