Looking at how stress-related disorders affect memory

A new fMRI study has found that patients who suffer emotional disorders that relate to stressful memories may have dysfunctional mechanisms for memory supression. After viewing a list of word pairs, patients were shown one of the words and asked to either recall or supress the paired word. Patients with stressrelated disorders showed greater activation of the hypocampus than controls, which suggests that insufficient activation of the prefrontal cortex may be related to the inability to supress unwanted or traumatic memories.

From what I can tell from the press release, this study had an experimental group of 38 and a control group of 21. Not a definative number, but not too shabby. The authors that that this has implications for psychiatry and the treatment of specific areas of the brain. I see implications for psychology as well. If we accept that these patients have a defecit in supressing traumatic memories, what happens when they confront these memories in therapy and reframe them. In other words, what happens when the patient starts to view the memories as less traumatic than before? Would we then see a behavioral change?

Link to ScienceDaily.

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