Memory, NLP & Neuro Science

How Much of Your Memory Is True?

New research shows that memories are constantly being re-written by our minds.

by Kathleen McGowan

This interesting article appeared on the July-August issue of Discovery magazine. I am indebted to Olivier who sent me the link. He knows my very keen interest in Neuro-Science, memory, emotions, and decisions.

I would like to highlight from the article a comment on addiction. This gives me a new thinking on addiction and it could lead in finding better resolve to the numerous drug addicts in our country.

Addiction is another kind of pathological remembering, but in this case the memory is pleasurable. Just as adrenaline sears emotional memories into the brain with the help of the amygdala, drugs of abuse enlist the amygdala and the brain’s reward centers to forge unforgettable memories of pleasure. Anything connected to the bliss reawakens the memory, in the form of craving. “When you see someone with a beer and a smoke and you get a craving, you are suffering from reminiscence, from an emotional memory,” Brunet says. Adapting experimental methods of forgetting to addiction might make it easier to quit.

From by NLP training, I have experienced the rewriting of a person “past history” almost permanently. Does that prove the statement made by Nader?

“For a hundred years, people thought memory was wired into the brain,” Nader says. “Instead, we find it can be rewired.”

I had always believed that civilisations with short history had restricted future, and civilisations that are rooted in a long past has a longer future. People who can draw from its ancestry, seem to have more to draw from to build a more creative long future.

“Having a memory that is too accurate is not always good,” he says. Put another way, memory and imagination are two sides of the same coin. Like memory, imagination allows you to put yourself in a time and place other than the one we actually occupy. This isn’t just a clever analogy: In recent neuroimaging studies, Harvard psychologist Daniel Schacter has shown that remembering and imagining mobilize many of the same brain circuits. “When people are instructed to imagine events that might happen in their personal future and then to remember actual events in the past, we find extensive and very striking overlap in areas of brain activation,” he says. Other researchers have found that people with severe amnesia lose their ability to imagine. Without memory, they can barely picture the future at all.

It is suggested in the document that the exercise of remembering and rewriting of our memory is done. I have been taught through several NLP protocols to achieve precisely this outcome.

That is basically what all these scientists hope to do. Nader, Brunet, and Pitman are now expanding their PTSD study with a new, $6.7 million grant from the U.S. Army, looking for drugs that go beyond propranolol. They are increasingly convinced that reconsolidation will prove to be a powerful and practical way to ease traumatic memories. Sacktor also believes that some version of the techniques they apply in the lab will eventually be used to help people. Most recently, LeDoux’s lab has figured out a way to trigger reconsolidation without drugs to weaken memory, simply by carefully timing the sessions of remembering. “The protocol is ridiculously simple,” LeDoux says.

None of these researchers are looking to create brain-zapped, amoral zombies—or even amnesiacs. They are just trying to take control of the messy, fragile biological process of remembering and rewriting and give it a nudge in the right direction. Brunet’s patients remember everything that happened, but they feel a little less tortured by their own pathological powers of recollection. “We’re turning traumatic memories into regular bad memories,” Brunet says. “That’s all we want to do.”

In the nutshell, I am fascinated to note the amount of practices of NLP that find plausible explanations through the newer discoveries in Neuro-science. To be realistic, it will not to be surprising also to learn that some other practices of NLP are not founded in the new discoveries.


#1 Agni on 08.25.09 at 7:27 pm

There is really nothing new about all of this.
Philosophy has been dealing with the issue of Truth and Thought and Ideas for as long as humans have existed.
The only new thing is the Psycho mongers getting on the band wagon, with more drugs in mind of course.

This seems to take Pavlov’s Dog experiment and apply it to humans.
So what happens to risk management and decision making through the use of experiences, information and events we store in our memory?
What happens to leaning from our mistakes?
We humans are not dogs! Or are there groups and organisations trying to turn us into dogs (with the help of drugs), which could then be easily trained, “given a nudge in the right direction”?

#2 joseph on 08.26.09 at 12:29 pm

Did not know that Psychologists were allowed to prescribe drugs? According to laws in Mauritius only Doctors are allowed to.
I am wondering how much of our human body belongs to the animal world and how much belongs beyond the animal world? How much of us are more developed than the animal?

#3 Agni on 08.26.09 at 6:47 pm

Did not know one needed a prescription from any type of Doctor in order to obtain any type of drug in Mauritius.

The difference? The Human Genome Project has shown that to be 5% of our genome. However the biggest difference between humans and the great apes lies in just 1 chromosome.

On the other hand it is claimed we use only 10% of our brain. I think we should look into ways of using more of it, instead of trying to reduce or control its functions.

#4 joseph on 08.27.09 at 12:29 pm

As in most ‘civilised” country where there is a rule of law, in Mauritius some drugs are sold over the counter without prior medical prescription but a large number of drugs require medical prescriptions. From what I am told by my pharmacists friends the law & regulations for dispensing of drugs are more restrictive than most European countries.

I fully agree that we scantly use the potential of our brain.
I invite you to read :

#5 Yolanda Zerbert on 11.01.09 at 2:55 pm

Could you recommend any specific resources, books, or other blogs on this topic?

#6 joseph on 11.01.09 at 9:05 pm

I am not a specialist on the subject. My link to Kathleen McGowan would be a good start. or where I did my training.
Thanks for inquiring.

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