Visuospatial Tasks Effectively Interfere with Memory Reconsolidation, Leading to a Reduction in Intrusive Memories




Tsatenawa, Victoria Dritsiro

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Memory consolidation is a process in which newly formed memories go from being unstable and labile, to stable. When memories become semi-malleable during reactivation reconsolidation works to restabilize these memories back into long-term memory. Intrusive memories are primarily visual and therefore it is argued that visuospatial tasks work to reduce intrusive memories by taxing the areas of the brain responsible for visuospatial information. The present study experimentally investigated the effect of visuospatial tasks on memory reconsolidation of intrusive memories when administered remotely without the presence of an administrator. It explored whether these effects were different from prior studies that analyzed the effect of visuospatial tasks on disrupting the memory reconsolidation of intrusive memories in participants who were exposed to a trauma-film in the lab, as well as from prior studies that investigated this effect on participants who just experienced a traumatic motor accident. Participants (N = 36) were presented with a pre-film mood and stress questionnaire before being exposed to a trauma film, followed by a post-film mood and stress questionnaire. They then recorded intrusive memories related to the trauma-film for 24 hrs. before proceeding with a memory reactivation task and then being randomly assigned to one of three conditions: Tetris, Word Completion, or Control (no task). Participants performed their respective condition task for 10 min. before rating for pleasantness and difficulty, and they were then instructed to record intrusive memories for the following 72hrs. Participants ended the study with submitting the 72hr intrusion diary and being debriefed remotely. Results found that there were no significant differences in the reduction of intrusive memories from pre-treatment to post-treatment across conditions. Given the need for more immediate, low-cost, and effective treatment or interventions for reducing trauma symptoms such as intrusive memories, more research is needed to explore the effectiveness of visuospatial tasks when administered remotely.



reconsolidation, intrusive memories, visuospatial tasks, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD


Tsatenawa, V. D. (2023). Visuospatial tasks effectively interfere with memory reconsolidation, leading to a reduction in intrusive memories (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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