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Presenter: Julie Krans
The way in which traumatic experiences are encoded and retrieved from memory remains an ever interesting question from both a theoretical and clinical perspective.
For one, individuals who have experienced a psychologically traumatic event tend to ‘re-experience’ their trauma through intrusive memories rather than recalling the event as being something in the past. From a theoretical perspective, clinical models of PTSD have emphasized specific encoding processes that lead to these involuntary memories. In the first part of my talk, I will review some of the experimental analogue studies testing these models and discuss them in light of the broader autobiographical memory literature, reflecting a hot debate in this field at the moment. From a clinical perspective, very little options are currently available for the prevention of intrusive memories. This is unfortunate, as these intrusive memories (or ‘flashbacks’) are perhaps the most distressing characteristic of post-traumatic stress. Based on the results of further experimental studies, I will review some initial evidence for promising theory-driven interventions. The final part of this talk will be some ‘food for thought’ on intrusive phenomena that stretch the boundaries of contemporary models of trauma memory and highlight what are, in my view, important avenues for future research.