Trauma & its impacts on memory

how trauma affects memory

Trauma impacts both:

  • explicit memory – in particular:
    • semantic memory or the memory of general knowledge and facts
      • trauma is thought to prevent different parts of the brain (temporal lobe and inferior parietal lobe cortex) form the combinations necessary to make a semantic memory
    • episodic memory or autobiographical memory of an event/experience
      • trauma is thought to shutdown episodic memory and fragment the sequence of events
      • the hippocampus is responsible for creating and recalling episodic memories
  • implicit memory – in particular:
    • emotional memory or the memory of emotions you had during an experience
      • trauma is thought to impact a person where they may get triggered (without the original context/situation) and re-experience painful emotions
      • The amygdala is the area of the brain associated with emotional memory
    • procedural memory or the memory to perform a common automatised task without actively thinking about it (riding a bicycle/driving a car etc.,)
      • trauma is thought to change patterns unconsciously of procedural memory, resulting in tension, pain etc.,
      • the striatum is associated with producing procedural memory and developing new habits



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