Memory suppression

Description

Being unable to remember experiences from our past can be troublesome. However, forgetting can be highly functional, for example, when being reminded of experiences from the past we prefer not to think about. To achieve forgetting, inhibitory control mechanisms can be recruited that dampen the traces of to-be-suppressed or interfering memories. In the current project, memory inhibition is tested in new experimental designs that allow for tracking the reactivation of memory representations and their inhibitory control. The studies aim at elucidating the brain oscillatory dynamics that signify the interaction of higher-order inhibitory control networks with unwanted memory traces. This is realized by employing magnetoencephalography (MEG), imaging neural activity with superior temporal and good spatial resolution. Furthermore, we are conducting the first neuroimaging study comparing patients with PTSD and healthy controls in their ability to suppress unwanted memories. We expect memory inhibition to reflect in increased alpha/beta oscillatory power over brain areas storing sensory memory representations. This increase is hypothesized to result from long-range synchronization with inhibitory control areas in the prefrontal cortex that is triggered by the intrusion of unwanted memories. PTSD patients presumably show a distortion of this neural interaction due to deficits in inhibitory control functioning. The findings could shed new light on the controversial topic of memory inhibition and could lead to the development of a new understanding and treatment of trauma-related psychiatric conditions.

Institutions
  • Exzellenzcluster
Funding sources
Name Project no. Description Period
Exzellenzinitiative496/13no information
Further information
Period: 15.03.2013 – 30.04.2014