New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Autobiographical Memories in Everyday Life

Sabine Schönfeld and Anke Ehlers

In this study, the researchers examined the characteristics of intrusive traumatic and nontraumatic memories experienced by those with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants who had experienced a trauma and who either did or did not meet the criteria for PTSD kept a memory diary for a week, in which they recalled each memory they experienced, and characteristics of each memory. Participants with PTSD recalled fewer, and more generalized nontraumatic memories, than did those without PTSD. These memories were more often from events that had occurred before the trauma. Trauma-related memories were more vivid and recurrent for those with PTSD than for those without PTSD. The researchers also found that the same features distinguished nontraumatic and traumatic memories for those with PTSD.

Use of a Brief Fear Memory Reactivation Procedure for Enhancing Exposure Therapy

Michael J. Telch, Jamie York, Cynthia L. Lancaster, and Marie H. Monfils

Exposure therapy is commonly used as a treatment for anxiety disorders. In this study, the authors examined whether they could augment exposure therapy by having participants complete a brief memory-reactivation procedure designed to make fear memories susceptible to alteration. Participants with a fear of spiders or snakes briefly reactivated a fear memory before or after they completed exposure therapy. The researchers found that participants who had reactivated their fear memory prior to exposure therapy displayed lower levels of phobic responding 1 month after the procedure. These results suggest that combining exposure therapy with memory reactivation may improve the outcomes of exposure-therapy treatments.

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