Why Am I Remembering This Now? Predicting the Occurrence of Involuntary (Spontaneous) Episodic Memories
ABSTRACT Involuntary episodic memories are memories of events that come to mind spontaneously, that is, with no preceding retrieval attempts. They are common in daily life and observed in a range of clinical disorders in the form of negative, intrusive recollections or flashbacks. However, little is known about their underlying mechanisms. Here we report a series of experiments in which-for the first time-the activation of involuntary memories is controlled and predicted on the basis of manipulations done at encoding. During encoding, participants were presented with pictures of scenes paired with sounds. Both scene and sound could be either unique (derived from a category that was presented only once) or repeated (derived from a category that was presented several times). During retrieval, the participants conducted an attention-demanding sound location task employing sounds from the encoding phase. In addition to the sound location task, they were asked to record all memories that might spontaneously arise during this task. Unique sounds generated most involuntary memories, consistent with the notion of cue overload. Repeated sounds rarely generated involuntary memories, but often yielded memories of repeated scenes in a voluntary (strategic) recall condition. Retrieval times were lower for involuntary than for comparable samples of strategically retrieved memories, suggesting less executive control involved in involuntary recall. Our findings show that it is possible to control the activation of involuntary episodic memories of daily scenes on the basis of well-known mechanisms of associative memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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ABSTRACT: The Self-Memory System encompasses the working self, autobiographical memory and episodic memory. Specific autobiographical memories are patterns of activation over knowledge structures in autobiographical and episodic memory brought about by the activating effect of cues. The working self can elaborate cues based on the knowledge they initially activate and so control the construction of memories of the past and the future. It is proposed that such construction takes place in the remembering-imagining system - a window of highly accessible recent memories and simulations of near future events. How this malfunctions in various disorders is considered as are the implication of what we term the modern view of human memory for notions of memory accuracy. We show how all memories are to some degree false and that the main role of memories lies in generating personal meanings. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.Consciousness and Cognition 01/2015; 142. DOI:10.1016/j.concog.2014.12.002 · 2.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Autobiographical memories of trauma victims are often described as disturbed in two ways. First, the trauma is frequently re-experienced in the form of involuntary, intrusive recollections. Second, the trauma is difficult to recall voluntarily (strategically); important parts may be totally or partially inaccessible-a feature known as dissociative amnesia. These characteristics are often mentioned by PTSD researchers and are included as PTSD symptoms in the DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). In contrast, we show that both involuntary and voluntary recall are enhanced by emotional stress during encoding. We also show that the PTSD symptom in the diagnosis addressing dissociative amnesia, trouble remembering important aspects of the trauma is less well correlated with the remaining PTSD symptoms than the conceptual reversal of having trouble forgetting important aspects of the trauma. Our findings contradict key assumptions that have shaped PTSD research over the last 40 years.
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ABSTRACT: Most involuntary memories are elicited by external cues (e.g., smells, sounds) that have unique associations with specific memories (Berntsen's cue-retrieval hypothesis), but involuntary memories can sometimes be elicited by weak, even imperceptible, cues that raise the activation level of an already primed memory (Berntsen's motivation-priming hypothesis) to also reach conscious awareness during times of low attentional focus. The current study examined the effects of a motivation bias (restrained eating) on the involuntary memories recorded in daily diaries for seven days by 56 female participants. A large proportion of the involuntary memories were elicited by food-related cues and occurred in food-related contexts. A significant correlation was found between the participants' scores on a restrained eating scale and the percentage of involuntary memories involving cooking and eating content. These results parallel previous research involving voluntary memory retrievals during restrained eating. Published by Elsevier Inc.Consciousness and Cognition 02/2015; 33C:237-244. DOI:10.1016/j.concog.2015.01.005 · 2.31 Impact Factor