Posted by & filed under Clinical Health Psychology, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: What is the relationship between specific things that you try and remember and the context that surrounds the events or those items? If you are asked to forget the list of words that you just spent time learning what other sorts of things do you think you might also be inclined to forget a long way? The article linked below talks about a research study in which these questions were looked at directly using fMRI procedures. Have a read and see what they found.

Source: The Way To Intentionally Forget Memories Reveals Their Contextual Nature, PsycBlog.

Date: May 8, 2016


Photo Credit: kozumel

Links: Article Link –

The researchers in this particular study found that the incidental contextual information surrounding a list of words people were asked to memorize seem to be put out of mind or out of memory just as easily as the words on the list that the participants in studied and that were later asked to forget. What this seems to suggest is that the contexts in which we acquire information initially are an important part of the overall way that information that gets laid down in the brain. As a consequence if we are asked to “flush” information from memory we seem to be inclined not only to remove that specific information but also the contextual information within which it was first acquired. The researchers suggested this may have some implications that will be useful in assisting people who are actively trying to get rid of traumatic memories.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does this research suggest about the relationship between the things that we learn in the contexts within which we learn them?
  2. Are the effects noted in this study only at play when the context in which information is learned is in some way related to that information?
  3. Speculate about what these results might provide in the way of additional therapeutic possibilities for working with individuals struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to specific life events?

References (Read Further):

Anderson, M. C., & Hanslmayr, S. (2014). Neural mechanisms of motivated forgetting. Trends in cognitive sciences, 18(6), 279-292.

Manning, J. Et al. (2016) a neural signature of contextually mediated intentional forgetting, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. First Online

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