Washington, January 11 : Israeli researchers have identified brain circuits that play a key role in memory suppression.
The study - conducted by researchers at The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon - attains importance as it may lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying amnesia.
For their study, the researchers hypnotized people to forget and then remember a documentary they had watched a week earlier. The participants' brain activity was studied using MRI.
During memory suppression, the brain scans showed reduced activity in some areas and increased activity in other areas. The activity in the inactive regions recovered when the hypnotized participants were later asked to remember the documentary.
"The paralleled recovery of brain activity and memory performance strongly suggests that suppression was exerted at early stages of the retrieval process, thus preventing the activation of regions that are crucial for productive retrieval," Live Science quoted the study authors as writing.
The findings suggest that the amnesia induced by posthypnotic suggestion "affects an executive pre-retrieval monitoring process, which produces an early decision on whether to proceed or not on retrieval, and in case of a [question about the movie], aborts the process," they wrote.
The authors said that further studies were required to determine whether these findings apply to actual clinical cases of amnesia.
The study has been published in the journal Neuron.