You can really get rid of unpleasant memories.
Topics: Psychology, Research
According to Medical Express with reference to a study by the University of Texas, scientists have been able to test a technique for dealing with traumatic memories. It has been found that the procedures clinicians use to indirectly reactivate traumatic memories create a window in which those memories can be altered or even completely erased.
In therapy, certain "reminders" are often used to safely recall traumatic memories. For example, a veteran of the armed forces injured by an improvised explosive device may be asked to re-memorize the markers of the traumatic event (lights, explosion sounds), but without negative consequences. The idea is that it helps to reduce the fear response.
However, this practice does not erase the original memory of the trauma. Hence, there is a risk of relapse. Experts have tried to understand whether the original memory can be changed. Experiments have found that the procedures used to indirectly reactivate traumatic memories provide an opportunity to change or eliminate them.
To do this, the researchers used a procedure in which a "reminder" / signal is indirectly associated with a frightening event. When the signal is later triggered, it indirectly reactivates the memory of the event and increases activity in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for memory. Thus, indirect reactivation of the contextual memory of fear through repeated exposure to the signal can make the memory vulnerable to destruction.