by Kelsey Nihezagirwe
Have your most embarrassing memories kept you from having a well-deserved night of sleep? Well don’t worry you’re not alone. Many are haunted to this day of the things they have done in their childhoods. Whether it be that time you tripped on absolutely nothing while walking in front of your crush, or that time a teacher told you to answer a question and you answered wrong in front of the whole class. Those things, although not trivial, can at times stay with a person and affect them. This is one of the only times when forgetting is useful.
Memories are triggered by feelings, sensations, and senses. When one recalls a bad memory, it is the brain warning you in case if something similar would happen. First of all, remembering is a dynamic system where one needs to piece together. This is good in the aspect that recalling can strengthen the act of recalling. However, this makes the memories vulnerable to alterations. Everytime you remember a memory there is a chance of altering it in your favor. This can work in bad memories because if you have a bad experience you might alter it to make it look worse that it actually was. This is when forgetting comes in clutch. It may seem easy to forget certain memories when you want to keep them. However, forgetting on command is much harder than trying to keep a memory.
In an experiment lead by Tracy Wang a postdoctoral psychology fellow at the university of Texas at Austin, a group of participants looked at 200 images. The images consisted of faces, which they were told to identify as male or female, and scenery which they were told to identify as indoors or outdoors. The participants were placed in a brain scanning machine to see their brain activity in the ventral temporal cortex and sensory cortex. Once they had seen all of the images and been told to remember and forget certain images, they were later tested. The test consisted of a series of images they saw and some they did not see. They were told to circle which they had seen and how confident they were in their answers. In the experiment, having too little or too much brain activity when trying to erase a memory is considered a failed attempt at forgetting. It was found that the best way to forget is to remember it a little and letting it fade on its own accord. Forcing yourself to forget something will not make it easier to forget. It will just make you remember it more. One can help themselves slowly forget by using the phrases “Think More” or “Think Less”. This method is not guaranteed to make you forget but sometimes thinking less about something or thinking more to come to terms with it might be what you need. Especially when you are being haunted in the middle of the night by unwanted memories.
Link to article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/health/memory-forgetting-psychology.html?searchResultPosition=7
Carey, B. (2019, March 22). Can We Get Better at Forgetting? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/health/memory-forgetting-psychology.html?searchResultPosition=7
Link to photo: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/20/change-life-art-of-forgetting
Ms. Carrigan's Psych Class
We have been reading articles about psychological studies to inform the way we live our lives. Please explore, and we hope you learn a bit about the psychology in your life!