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Rapid Eye Movement Effects on Traumatic Memories: A Test of the Working Memory Hypothesis

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Author: Koppel, Rebecca Helene
Advisor: Ball, Chris (Christopher Thomas)
Committee Members: Stefanucci, Jeanine; Fauvel, Maryse
Issued Date: 2009-05-08
Subjects: EMDR
Eye movements
Working memory hypothesis
Central executive hypothesis
Traumatic memories
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/1181
Description: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a psychotherapy that uses rapid eye movements to alleviate traumatic memories. This experiment examined two working memory hypotheses proposed to explain how performing rapid eye movements can affect the vividness, emotionality and completeness of traumatic memories. Participants (N=25) recalled three traumatic memories and rated them on vividness, emotionality and completeness before and after performing rapid eye movements. Participants also completed six working memory tasks to see if a correlation existed between working memory and the effect of rapid eye movements on memory rating variables. Findings illustrate that there was a significant decrease pre-test to post-test in vividness. Additionally, the factor underlying the reading span operation task and the Sternberg item order task significantly correlated with the effect of rapid eye movements for all memory ratings. The results of the current study support the central executive hypothesis explanation more than the visuospatial sketchpad storage hypothesis for EMDR.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Psychology

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