"Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere, just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going, and that he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about the time he thought he was an angel or dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized the world isn’t perfect. We’re flawed, because we want so much more. We’re ruined, because we get these things, and wish for what we had."The Summer Man." Mad Men. (via wordsnquotes)
When a person experiences a devastating loss or tragic event, why does every detail seem burned into memory whereas a host of positive experiences simply fade away?
It’s a bit more complicated than scientists originally thought, according to a study recently published in the journal Neuroscience by ASU researcher Sabrina Segal.
When people experience a traumatic event, the body releases two major stress hormones: norepinephrine and cortisol. Norepinephrine boosts heart rate and controls the fight-or-flight response, commonly rising when individuals feel threatened or experience highly emotional reactions. It is chemically similar to the hormone epinephrine – better known as adrenaline.
In the brain, norepinephrine in turn functions as a powerful neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that can enhance memory.
Research on cortisol has demonstrated that this hormone can also have a powerful effect on strengthening memories. However, studies in humans up until now have been inconclusive – with cortisol sometimes enhancing memory, while at other times having no effect.
A key factor in whether cortisol has an effect on strengthening certain memories may rely on activation of norepinephrine during learning, a finding previously reported in studies with rats.
In her study, Segal, an assistant research professor at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research at ASU, and her colleagues at the University of California-Irvine showed that human memory enhancement functions in a similar way.
Conducted in the laboratory of Larry Cahill at U.C. Irvine, Segal’s study included 39 women who viewed 144 images from the International Affective Picture Set. This set is a standardized picture set used by researchers to elicit a range of responses, from neutral to strong emotional reactions, upon view.
Segal and her colleagues gave each of the study’s subjects either a dose of hydrocortisone – to simulate stress – or a placebo just prior to viewing the picture set. Each woman then rated her feelings at the time she was viewing the image, in addition to giving saliva samples before and after. One week later, a surprise recall test was administered.
What Segal’s team found was that “negative experiences are more readily remembered when an event is traumatic enough to release cortisol after the event, and only if norepinephrine is released during or shortly after the event.”
“This study provides a key component to better understanding how traumatic memories may be strengthened in women,” Segal added, “because it suggests that if we can lower norepinephrine levels immediately following a traumatic event, we may be able to prevent this memory enhancing mechanism from occurring, regardless of how much cortisol is released following a traumatic event.”
Further studies are needed to explore to what extent the relationship between these two stress hormones differ depending on whether you are male or female, particularly because women are twice as likely to develop disorders from stress and trauma that affect memory, such as in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the meantime, the team’s findings are a first step toward a better understanding of neurobiological mechanisms that underlie traumatic disorders, such as PTSD.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
No eres mi posesión, mujer, no soy tu dueño. No eres mi trofeo, mi medalla, mi regalo, mi amuleto; eres tuya. Aunque te ame con todas mis fuerzas, aunque desee morir contigo, arrugarnos juntos y perder la memoria. Tú puedes irte el día que quieras, puedes huir de mí, si algún día no te hago feliz o si tu corazón ya no palpita por mí. Así como llegaste de sorpresa también puedes irte sin avisar. Pero te recuerdo que mi corazón siempre te va recordar, que te llama, que te muere, fuiste su alegría. Esta cicatriz abierta es tu retrato, es nuestro amor, que un día se escapo.No soy tu dueño, Joseph Kapone (via el-escritor-sombrilla)
I asked him for his photo. He stared at me for a few seconds, then felt my forehead with the back of his hand, then stared at me for a few more seconds, then said: “What the fuck is wrong with you?”