Here’s What Your Brain Needs To Do To Erase A Memory, According To Neuroscientists

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Everyone knows that when something terrible happens in our lives, we’d do anything to forget that unfortunate event that traumatized us.

But the latest reports coming from experts claim the exact opposite is necessary instead on trying to block and ignore the memory.

Focus on the memory to forget it 

There’s a new study led by experts in Texas which suggests that the whole act of intentionally forgetting something is strongly related to increased cerebral engagement with the unwanted information.

In other words, to forget something, you actually need to focus on it, as strange as it may sound.

“A moderate level of brain activity is critical to this forgetting mechanism,” explains psychologist Tracy Wang from the University of Texas at Austin.

She continued and explained that “Too strong, and it will strengthen the memory; too weak, and you won’t modify it.”

On the other hand, trying to actively forget unwanted memories doesn’t only help prevent the brain from getting overloaded.

It seems that this also lets people move on from the most painful experiences and emotions that they wish never to recall.

“We may want to discard memories that trigger maladaptive responses, such as traumatic memories so that we can respond to new experiences in more adaptive ways,” said one of the researchers, Jarrod Lewis-Peacock.

“Decades of research has shown that we can voluntarily forget something, but how our brains do that is still being questioned.”

The latest experiment and results

In an investigation made with 24 healthy adults, the participants have been shown pictures of various scenes and people’s face. They were instructed either to remember or forget the image.

The participants had their brain activity monitored.

The results of the study showed that the act of forgetting effectively uses more brain power than remembering.

“This boost in processing led to more forgetting, particularly for items that showed moderate (vs. weak or strong) activation,” according to experts. Read more about the study on Science Alert.