Study: Self-control weakens memory

    Study: Self-control weakens memory

  • 1 Cancelling an intended action seems to weaken memory

    A study done at Duke University suggests that when an intended action is halted, the person is less likely to remember what exactly halted that action.

  • 2 The results were published in the Journal of Neuroscience

    The study 'Inhibition-Induced Forgetting Results from Resource Competition between Response Inhibition and Memory Encoding Processes' was published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2015.

  • 3 Switching lanes while driving scenario is a good example

    An example of a weakened memory is a scenario of wanting to switch lanes in a car and then cancelling that action because another car was spotted in the blind spot. This makes the driver less likely to remember what make and model of the other car was.

  • 4 Experiment with 120 male and female faces was done

    In the study, participants were asked to press a button if they saw a male face but withhold a response if they saw a female face. They looked at a total of 120 different faces.

  • 5 After 5 minutes of testing, a surprise memory test was conducted

    After 5 minutes of testing, the participants were then given a surprise memory test in which they viewed the previous 120 faces. They were asked to indicate whether a face was new or familiar.

  • 6 'We didn't really know which way that would go'

    Tobias Egner, a researcher, said, 'We didn't really know which way that would go. You could argue quite easily that canceling a response to a stimulus might actually make that stimulus more memorable.'

  • 7 Memory was weakened by inhibiting action

    The opposite of what Egner and the team expected was true; inhibiting an action weakened memory.

  • 8 Changing focus

    The research team suspected that when an action is inhibited, the person changes their focus, which makes them less likely to remember.

  • 9 Brain scans revealed the truth

    Participants' brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) - a noninvasive, indirect measure of brain activity.

  • 10 A known inhibition network in the brain was activated

    MRI showed that when participants inhibited their actions, a known inhibition network in the brain was strongly activated, while the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (responsive for memory) was suppressed.

  • 11 ADHD sufferers may benefit from the study

    The study shows that ADHD sufferers who try to consciously inhibit their fidgeting might do themselves a disservice as their focus changes.

  • 12 How rapidly switching tasks affects memory is under investigation

    The research team now wants to continue investigating the topic by trying to understand how exactly rapidly switching tasks affects memory.