Emily Holmes is supported by the Medical Research Council (United Kingdom) intramural programme (MC-A060-5PR50), the Lupina Foundation, a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship (WT088217), and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre based at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford University (REF A93182). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health. Funding for the Open Access publication charges for this article was also provided by the UK Medical Research Council.
Prefrontal-posterior coupling while observing the suffering of other people, and the development of intrusive memories
Article first published online: 24 FEB 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Volume 51, Issue 6, pages 546–555, June 2014
How to Cite
Reiser, E. M., Weiss, E. M., Schulter, G., Holmes, E. A., Fink, A. and Papousek, I. (2014), Prefrontal-posterior coupling while observing the suffering of other people, and the development of intrusive memories. Psychophysiology, 51: 546–555. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12197
- Issue published online: 1 MAY 2014
- Article first published online: 24 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Received: 3 OCT 2013
- Medical Research Council (United Kingdom). Grant Number: MC-A060-5PR50
- Lupina Foundation
- Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship. Grant Number: WT088217
- National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre based at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford University. Grant Number: REF A93182
- Implicit memory;
- EEG coherence;
- Intrahemispheric communication;
- Top-down modulation
Witnessing the suffering of others, for instance, in hospital emergency rooms but also through televised images in news or reality programs, may be associated with the occurrence of later intrusive memories. The factors contributing to why some people develop intrusive memories and others do not are still poorly understood. N = 121 healthy women were exposed to film scenes showing the suffering of dying, severely injured, and mourning people while their EEG was recorded. Individuals showing greater decreases of functional coupling between prefrontal and posterior cortices (greater decreases of EEG beta coherences) reported more intrusive memories of the witnessed events. This was shown for intrusions in the short term (immediately after viewing the film) as well as in the medium term (intrusive memories over 1 week). The findings illuminate brain mechanisms involved in the encoding of information in ways that make intrusive memories more likely.