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New study supports 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'-like theory

Erasing Bad Memories Is Possible

The science fiction film "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" follows a couple who erase the memory of each other, but a new study claims that the idea isn't science fiction. Just science.

Researchers have found that when people actively try to forget an undesired memory, they can actually remove it from their unconscious mind.

Participants in the study were shown two images, like a coffee cup. Then some were told to forget the first image. Researchers wanted to see if, when subjects were shown a scrambled image of the object or other added visual noise, participants could identify the coffee cup.

As crazy as it sounds, participants had a harder time identifying the object if they were told to forget about it.

The study's researcher, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge said, "Basically, you're shutting down regions that would ordinarily play a role in seeing that object, just to keep the image from coming into the consciousness. The side effect of doing that is that whatever memory traces of the coffee cup were there, they are weakened, and later on, when you have to detect the cup in visual noise, you find just a bit harder."

So, no, you can't erase the memory of your ex, but you might be able to stop the memory from entering your conscious mind.

For future studies the researchers want to see if the same effects exist for long standing memories -- like your ex.

Join the discussion

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john March 19 2014 at 12:52 AM

There are reasons that we have memories, just as there are reasons we have pain and reasons that we make mistakes. There are important lessons to be learned. More of our moving closer to becoming inhumane robot-like "creatures" if you want to call it that, though I have reservations. A machine in a so-called "perfect" world is not alive.

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Dianne john March 19 2014 at 5:45 AM

I agee with you. However, wouldn't it be wonderful for a soldier to erase the memories that caused their PTSD; or an adult child to erase memories of abuse, once they are safe? There are memories that can cause debilitation of many peoples lives. This study, and its implementation on victims, may prove to be the answer for those that suffer.

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Cheryl Dianne March 19 2014 at 9:14 AM

I so agree with you Dianne !!!!

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maryc700travel March 19 2014 at 10:09 AM

would be interested in learning more.

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ajaj88 March 19 2014 at 10:03 AM

Hypnotherapy is so important to help people through this process

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ae12wrangell March 19 2014 at 12:07 PM

I have memories. They go back a long way, and I'm 55. I can remember 1st grade, or rather 1 specific day, when I did something I shouldn't have. I was only 5 at the time, so I still remember what I did 50 years later.

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Glenda March 19 2014 at 1:19 AM

There are some I would choose to forget.

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sami March 19 2014 at 4:02 AM

sometimes ur memories hurt u so much it really is better to forget.

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weeziebathome March 19 2014 at 5:44 AM

I went through a very painful divorce over 30 years ago. I notice that when I try to recall details about life in general during that time period, I have a difficult time. This has been consistent throughout the years, and my memory for other times in my life is very good. I think the human mind does try to protect us from ourselves!

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Mike weeziebathome March 19 2014 at 9:32 AM

We do what we do to either avoid pain or gain pleasure. Personally I use pain as leverage to move forward. However, the pain you speak of is no doubt a different kind of pain.

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bobkat15 Mike March 19 2014 at 11:11 AM

I was also thinking if in the future bad memories can be erased how will anyone learn from their mistakes?...

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qmcsm004 March 19 2014 at 5:49 AM

Obama must know how to do this well, he forget what he says from one day to the next.

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diamondlestat March 19 2014 at 8:52 AM

Was pretty interesting till they got to the...can't for get your ex part :)

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solarious March 19 2014 at 11:48 AM


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