Telling someone, "I won't forget!" seems like such a simple statement. Yet in reality, our memories fail us constantly. Chapter 7 focuses on how our brain creates, retains, and recalls memories. This process is not perfect, as information can be lost rather quickly. As the textbook elaborates, "The same memory mechanisms that serve us well in most circumstances can sometimes cause us problems in others" (Lilienfeld 242). One question remains, what if we purposely want to forget a certain memory?
This question is very intriguing, as people are often confronted with memories that they would much rather erase. Death, rape, fear, bad relationships, abuse, and other experiences can create memories that one does not want to recall. The textbook details that memories that involve much emotion are the most persistent. The release of adrenaline and norepinephrine, two hormones, during times of stress stimulates protein receptors on nerve cells. This process causes emotional memories to solidify. The textbook also offers evidence of a study that could potentially affect the way emotional memories are handled. The study proved that propranolol, a drug, could keep adrenaline from affecting the protein receptors. Essentially, this drug can blur the emotional memories that people are weighted down by. One might ask, is this even ethical? As with many scientific findings, people may argue that emotional memories are important as they are learning opportunities. Others insist that having the ability to erase pain is necessary.
What implications will these developments have in the coming years? More recent information shows that other drugs are also being tested that may have the same effects as propranolol on memories. The following YouTube video describes the work scientists are doing with these drugs and the benefits these drugs may have on society, such as helping war veterans cope with traumatic memories.
From Inquiry to Understanding by Scott Lilienfeld
YouTube video, listed above