Brain oscillations mediate successful suppression of unwanted memories

Waldhauser, G. T., Bäuml, K.-H. T. and Hanslmayr, S. (2015) Brain oscillations mediate successful suppression of unwanted memories. Cerebral Cortex, 25(11), pp. 4180-4190. (doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu138) (PMID:24962991)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


To avoid thinking of unwanted memories can be a successful strategy to forget. Studying brain oscillations as measures of local and inter-regional processing, we shed light on the neural dynamics underlying memory suppression. Employing the think/no-think paradigm, 24 healthy human subjects repeatedly retrieved (think condition) or avoided thinking of (no-think condition) a previously learned target memory upon being presented with a reminder stimulus. Think and no-think instructions were delivered by means of a precue that preceded the reminder by 1 s. This allowed us to segregate neural control mechanisms that were triggered by the precue from the effect of suppression on target memory networks after presentation of the reminder. Control effects were reflected in increased power in the theta (5–9 Hz) frequency band in the medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and higher long-range alpha (10–14 Hz) phase synchronization. Successful suppression of target memories was reflected in a decrease of theta oscillatory power in the medial temporal lobes and reduced long-range theta phase synchronization emerged after presentation of the reminder. Our results suggest that intentional memory suppression correlates with increased neural communication in cognitive control networks that act in down-regulating local and inter-regional processing related to memory retrieval.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanslmayr, Professor Simon
Authors: Waldhauser, G. T., Bäuml, K.-H. T., and Hanslmayr, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Cerebral Cortex
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1460-2199
Published Online:24 June 2014

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record