Brain scans of passengers who believed they were about to die when their plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic in 2001 are helping researchers better understand traumatic memories.
Air Transat Flight 236, bound for Lisbon from Toronto on Aug. 24, 2001, crash-landed in the Azores after gliding powerless over the ocean for 30 minutes. Some of the 306 passengers and crew on board developed post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as a result of the terrifying scare.
Brain imaging of eight of those passengers, conducted nine years after the event, shows the memories of that harrowing experience retained a rich vividness that “lit up” areas of the brain related to memory, emotion and visual processing.
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