World Mental Healthcare Association

Researchers Find Why People Remember Stressful Experiences Better

Researchers Find Why People Remember Stressful Experiences Better news
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Mental Health News – When the brain stores memories, it creates a characteristic pattern for each of them. Study discovered that stress changes those memory traces. Stressful experiences are usually remembered more easily than neutral experiences.

In a new study, researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) put people in stressful situations during stimulated job interviews and recorded their memories of objects from the interviews. They analyzed their brain activities using functional magnetic resonance imaging, while the participants saw the object again.

Using the trier Social Test, the researchers set out to record the memory trace of a real incident in their experiments. The participants spoke in front of an application committee, all of whom wore neutral expressions and didn’t give any positive feedback that triggered stress in the participants. In the job interview simulation, the committee used a few everyday objects and the control group was confronted with the same objects. But the participants were not subjected to any stress.

After one day, the participants of both groups were shown the objects. The study findings showed that stressed participants remembered the objects better than the control group members. The researchers examined the brain activity in the amygdala and compared the neuronal traces of objects that had been used by the committee members.

According to the research result, the brain representations of the objects from stressful situations were very closely associated, and they were set apart from other experiences. The study found that stressful experiences are usually remembered by people more easily than neutral experiences.

“Accordingly, it seems that the link between the objects and the stress triggers was crucial for the enhanced memory,” said Prof. Nikolai Axmacher, one of the lead researchers of the study published in the journal Current Biology. The findings can be an important building block to better understand emotional and traumatic memories.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Bierbrauer, A., Fellner, M., Heinen, R., Wolf, O. T., & Axmacher, N. (2021). The memory trace of a stressful episode. Current Biology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.09.044

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