Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Erasing Bad Memories: Wiping Out Unconscious Traces Is Possible

a picture of a brain being erased. 

 Bad memories are not only part of our conscious mind, they also leave a trace in our unconscious. But now, new research shows that actively trying to forget an unwanted memory can help erase this unconscious trace.

In a new study, researchers showed people pairs of images, and sometimes asked the participants to try to forget the first image of an object. The researchers wanted to see whether such willful forgetting could change how easily the participants could later identify an image of that object, this time hidden almost imperceptibly behind "visual noise," or a scrambled image of the object.

Generally, after people have seen an image, say of a coffee cup, they can more easily identify another image of that coffee cup even if it is masked by such visual noise. That's because the brain does a bit of work to set up a mental representation of the coffee cup the first time around. [10 Things You Didn't Know About the Brain]

However, in the study, it turned out that participants had a harder time identifying an object within the background noise if they had tried to forget the first.

For the rest of the story: http://www.livescience.com/44160-erasing-unconscious-bad-memories.html

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