Table_1_The Prospective Influence of Trait Alexithymia on Intrusive Memories: What Is the Role of Emotional Recognition Memory?.DOCX (665.83 kB)

Table_1_The Prospective Influence of Trait Alexithymia on Intrusive Memories: What Is the Role of Emotional Recognition Memory?.DOCX

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posted on 08.01.2019 by M. Roxanne Sopp, Alexandra H. Brueckner, Tanja Michael

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often considered to be a disorder of memory as patients suffer from fragmented uncontrollable memories (intrusions) whilst experiencing difficulties in intentionally retrieving details of the traumatic event. Recent research suggests that trait-related deficits in the identification of emotional states (alexithymia) may impact emotional memory processes in a way that promotes intrusion formation in PTSD. Therefore, we investigated the influence of alexithymia on intrusive re-experiencing and emotional recognition memory in a prospective analog study. Twenty-six healthy participants took part in a laboratory experiment, which combined two independent paradigms. Participants were exposed to a traumatic film (first session) and completed an episodic memory task comprising neutral and emotional stimuli (second session). In between sessions, participants recorded intrusive memories of the film. Individuals with higher trait alexithymia (HTA) reported an increased number of intrusions on the day of film presentation. Moreover, analyses of memory performance revealed a negative correlation between alexithymia and emotional recognition memory. Further analyses suggest that reduced emotional recognition memory, as evident in individuals with HTA, may, in turn, be associated with enhanced intrusive re-experiencing. As such, the current findings provide first indications regarding the role of alexithymia in emotional learning and PTSD. Future studies should further investigate these associations as well as potential implications for the treatment of PTSD.

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