February 08, 2011
Memories Stronger For Bad Events That Could Recur

If you think some unpleasantness could happen to you again you are more likely to remember that unpleasantness in detail. So knowledge that you can avoid a recurrence will make it easier for you to forget some painful episode of your life.

WASHINGTON—When people think unpleasant events are over, they remember them as being less painful or annoying than when they expect them to happen again, pointing to the power of expectation to help people brace for the worst, according to studies published by the American Psychological Association.

In a series of eight studies exposing people to annoying noise, subjecting them to tedious computer tasks, or asking them about menstrual pain, participants recalled such events as being significantly more negative if they expected them to happen again soon.

So we've lived thru all sorts of unpleasantness that we have forgotten about. We can remember childhood as better than it was we because we do not expect to be children again. This seems like an argument for rejecting the idea of reincarnation. You are more likely to remember the worst parts of your childhood if you think you are going to be born into a human body again and again and again.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 February 08 07:15 PM  Brain Memory


Comments
PacRim Jim said at February 8, 2011 9:43 AM:

The basis of anxiety disorders?

DRJ said at February 14, 2011 11:48 AM:

Isn't this also an argument for not going to therapy because it requires you to relive the event over and over again?

jr said at February 14, 2011 7:41 PM:

One would think it obvious that the brain prepares the body to handle expected experiences so when one is expected the brain keeps itself and the body on high alert to deal with it. I would theorize that nightmares are also the result of the brain putting itself and the body through harrowing experiences in order to keep the bodily and nervous system reactions sharp. Fire drills, as it were, to be sure the body is practicing what it needs to do in an emergency. Post traumatic stress syndrome, likewise, means the brain is causing the body to continue to practice the reactions it needs to deal with past experiences.

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