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Selectively Interfering with Intrusive but not Voluntary Memories of a Trauma Film: Accounting for the Role of Associative Memory
Lau-Zhu, A., HENSON, R.N., Holmes, E.A
Clinical Psychological Science, May 5 2021
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Intrusive memories of a trauma event can be reduced by a subsequent interference procedure, seemingly sparing voluntary memory for that event. This selective interference effect has potential therapeutic benefits (e.g., for emotional disorders) and legal importance (e.g., witness testimony). However, the measurements of intrusive versus voluntary memory typically differ in the role of associations between a cue and the emotional memory “hotspots”. To test this, we asked participants to watch a traumatic film followed by either an interference (reminder-plus-Tetris) or control (reminder-only) procedure. Measurement of intrusions (using a laboratory task) and voluntary memory (recognition for film stills) were crossed with the presence versus absence of associative cues. The reminder-plus-Tetris group exhibited fewer intrusions, despite comparable recognition memory, replicating prior studies. Importantly, this selective interference did appear to depend on associative cues. This involuntary versus voluntary memory dissociation for emotional material further supports separate-trace memory theories and has applied advantages.
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