Why people forget details but maintain emotional reaction post traumatic events

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Washington: A new research has revealed that human brain dissociates the explicit memory of a negative event from the emotional response in fearful situations.

The study at the Cognition and Brain Plasticity group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona describes how in a context of fear, human brain differently encodes contextual memory of a negative event (the place, what they saw, etc) and emotional response associated.

The study showed that in the fearful context the electrodermal activity, the emotional implicit response, was exactly the same, much higher than in the neutral context.

Author Pau Packard said that in the traumatic events it seems that over time there is a portion of memory that is erased or people do not have access, they forget the details but still maintaining the emotional reaction.

This may help to understand why in pathological situations of post-traumatic stress disorders, the uncontrolled emotional response linked to the negative event is generated without knowing what causes it.

As explained by Lluis Fuentemilla, project coordinator, the study helps explain how the processing of fearful memories can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder and also opens the door to the investigation of new therapeutic strategies for these disorders because the implicit memory trace in a fearful context does not loose over time and can be detected through electrodermal measures.

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