Involuntary memory

From Day 2 (May 25th) of the 2018 Association for Psychological Science’s convention in San Francisco:

“For many years, involuntary memories were ignored. I’m here to tell you what we have learned about this intriguing phenomenon,” said APS Board Member Dorthe Berntsen in the 2018 Presidential Symposium. Berntsen’s multi-decade body of research on this unique form of autobiographical memory has shown the wide-ranging influence of the memories that simply pop into our heads without intentional retrieval. She presented an impressive body of experimental findings on the role of involuntary memory across the lifespan in humans as well as in apes.

For some time, I’ve been collecting examples of one particular form of involuntary memory in my life — morning names, the expressions that come to me unbidden when I rise in the morning. There’s a Page on this blog listing my postings on them. So it’s nice to discover that there’s actually a research community working on involuntary memories.

About Berntsen (Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University in Denmark), from her Aarhus page:

My research deals with autobiographical memory (the ability to remember events from the personal past). I have particularly examined involuntary (spontaneously arising) autobiographical memories, which are memories that appear in the consciousness with no preceding attempts at retrieving them. I have pioneered the scientific study of this phenomenon in cognitive psychology, and examined them in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression, as well as dementia where spontaneous memories of the early part of life can be intact and stimulated with relevant cues. Since 2010 I have headed the Danish National Research Foundation Center on Autobiographical Memory Research (CON AMORE), where we study autobiographical memory from many different angles, including life span development from early childhood to old age, across various mental disorders, and across cultures.

And now to post, separately, on two recent morning names, both of them proper names of real people, from very different sides of my lfe: Lisa Whelchel and W. Sidney Allen.


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