A new study shows there may be reason to believe we have a selective memory . It seems a mechanism in the brain may block unwanted memories.
Researchers from Stanford University studied 24 volunteers between ages 19 and 31. Participants were given 36 pairs of unrelated words and asked to remember them at five-second intervals. Researchers then divided the 36 word pairs into three sets of 12. Participants were asked to remember particular words and ignore others. Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging technology to scan participants' brains during the second part of the experiment.
Results of the study show participants remembered fewer words they actively tried to ignore than those they were told to remember. Researchers say these results suggest that the human brain has the ability to block unwanted memories.
Researchers say the study shows people are capable of repeatedly blocking thoughts or experiences they don't want to remember. It was also found that people's memory gets worse the more they try to avoid thinking about it. If you consistently expose people to a reminder of a memory that they don't want to think about, and they try not to think about it, they actually don't remember it as well as memories where they were not presented with any reminders at all.
Thus researchers say their findings could be used as a tool for better understanding addiction and cravings.