Another scientific study supporting recovered memory. The study, conducted at Northwestern University, suggests that if the brain is in a heightened state of arousal it records a memory but does not ‘play it’ back until the mind returns to the state in which it was first encoded. It will be fascinating see how those who have declared victory in the “memory wars” will respond. If the past is any indication, they will ignore this study (and this one, and this one) and continue to say “there is no scientific evidence.” Fortunately, the world of science does not work like the world of politics. The accumulating scientific evidence for recovered memory is undeniable–to those without a political commitment to denying such evidence.
The most recent issue of Science contains a report by three neuroscientists who “reactivated” memories that could not otherwise be retrieved in mice, using a technology known as optogenetics. Here is the press release about the study from MIT. “The majority of researchers have favored the storage theory [of memory], but we have shown in this paper that this majority theory is probably wrong,” one researcher said. “Amnesia is a problem of retrieval impairment.” One can only wonder how those who claim there is “no scientific evidence” for the concept of recovered memory will dismiss this study.
Those famous for saying there is no “scientific evidence” supporting repression or recovered memory are finding it ever harder to maintain that position. As indicated in the previous post, several courts have rejected Dr. Harrison Pope’s extreme position. Add to that the evidence from a study published last year based on magnetic resonance imaging that concluded:
“This pattern of results fits exactly to the psychodynamic theories of repression as a mechanism for avoiding conscious access to conflict-related material. One relevant future project will be to test the effects of individually-designed stimuli, e.g. derived from psychotherapy or operationalized psychodynamic diagnostics (OPD). Furthermore, it will be interesting to apply this paradigm to clinical populations whose psychopathology is assumed to depend on repression, for example patients with conversion disorders or dissociative pseudo-seizures. Possibly, brain activation patterns during this paradigm may point towards relevant unresolved conflicts – reminiscent of the initial ideas of C.G. Jung, and in line with previous research in the emerging new field of ‘‘Neuro-Psychoanalysis.’’’
Schmeing et. al., “Can the Neural Basis of Repression be Studied in the MRI Scanner? New Insights from Two Free Association Paradigms,” PLOS ONE (April 2013), vol. 8, Issue 4 (e62358), pp. 56–58.