A study done by the researchers at Boston University School of Medicine has revealed that people facing trauma cannot suppress unwanted emotional memories. This research was published on March 4th, 2019 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
According to the study, this inability to face the bad memories is due to the disruptions in the patient’s brain that can be neural and behavioral. These disruptions further become the reason for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The study has suggested that healthy individuals can face emotional breakdown and they can actively suppress emotional memories. However, it can be challenging for individuals with PTSD.
It has been shown by the study that PTSD patients regularly experience unwanted reminiscences of their hurtful experiences. Even after making many efforts to avoid such trauma, PTSD patients fail in doing so.
Danielle R. Sullivan, a lead author of the study suggested, "Neuroimaging data revealed that trauma-exposed individuals showed reduced activation in the right middle frontal gyrus, a critical region for memory suppression, during a memory suppression task and were less likely to successfully suppress memory compared to non-trauma exposed individuals.”
While suffering from PTSD, a person goes through the intense recalling of the trauma. This trauma can prove to be tiresome, disturbing and devastating for the person. These distressing symptoms can bring an inability in patients to suppress unwanted memories. This can also be a strong contributor in the behavioral manifestation of PTSD.
However, developmental and neural effects play a vital role in memory suppression among individuals with PTSD. During the study, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used by the researchers to examine the memory suppression in three groups.
Researchers framed three groups such as - those with PTSD; those who experienced trauma without PTSD and those who control with no trauma exposure or PTSD. It has been found after the deep analysis of such groups that trauma-exposed participants were unable to suppress the memory.
These results were displayed regardless of their PTSD status. The group of people who were not exposed to trauma was much better in controlling their behavior.
The results under this study clearly suggest that exposure to the trauma is linked with the neural and behavioral disruptions in memory suppression. This indicates the possibility that the difficulty in suppressing the bad memories could be only one of the numerous possible factors that contribute towards the development of PTSD.