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The Therapeutic Implications Of False Memories

1893 words - 8 pages

This paper discusses the current state of research into false memories and memory manipulation as well the therapeutic applications of this research. The paper describes studies that demonstrate the susceptibility of memory to change and influence to establish the viability of memory manipulation. Current and proposed applications of memory modification are described through the chronicling of research in the area. The ethical concerns of such research are discussed as well as potential subjects of future research. Utilization of mnemonic elasticity is determined to be a valuable asset that has great potential for present and future interventions.

The Therapeutic Implications of False
Memories and Memory Manipulation
Research has demonstrated the vast implications of false memories for eyewitness testimony and therapeutic recall. However, there is also great potential for positive applications of this research. The plasticity of memories could have significant therapeutic implications. Positive false memories could be created as well as neutralizing traumatic ones. Researchers in cognitive psychology and neuroscience are currently researching these possibilities. This paper will discuss the current state of research on therapeutic memory manipulation.
Literature Review
False Memories
The malleability of memories has long been established through research conducted in a variety of context. The most well known context that individual predisposition for false memory development has been chronicled in is in the realm of eyewitness testimony. However, research into false memories has also focused on its implications in everyday life and in a variety of clinical settings as well. This background research is important because it establishes memory manipulation as not only feasible, but natural. This demonstrates the potential of artificial memory manipulation for the promotion of desirable therapeutic outcomes.
Loftus and Palmer (1974) examined the influence of language on an individual’s perception of an experienced event. They conducted two experiments for the purpose of their study. In the first one they divided N= 45 participants into five testing groups. These groups were shown footage of an automobile accident and then presented with a series of questions recalling the event. The independent variable in this experiment was the action verbs used in the questions inquiring about the speed the vehicles were going at the time of the accident. The action verbs used were hit, collided, bumped, contacted, and smashed. The results of the experiment indicated that the verb used significantly affected the participants’ estimate of the speed of the vehicles. Notably, participants asked how fast the vehicles were going when they smashed into each other estimated a mean speed around nine mph faster than those who were asked when they hit each other (Loftus & Palmer, 1974). The second experiment had a sample of N= 150 and focused on the influence of the...

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