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Using Think/No-think Paradigm to Study Motivated Forgetting: Behavior and Brain Mechanism
Author(s): 
Pages: 1058-1066
Year: Issue:  5
Journal: Psychological Science

Keyword:  think/no thinkTNTmotivated forgettingnegative control effectEEGfMRI;
Abstract: Motivated forgetting is an important aspect of an effective memory system. People have motivations to limit the time they spend thinking about unpleasant experiences, thus they eventually forget those memories. The think/no-think(TNT) paradigm is proposed to study the process of motivated forgetting based on the go/no-go experimental paradigm. This paradigm emphasizes that individuals’ subjective suppression of unwanted memories reduces their later conscious recall. In recent years, many TNT behavioral studies have consistently indicated that memory suppression can produce a negative control effect, thus verify the feasibility of the implementation of motivated forgetting in a laboratory context. In this review, we summarized some main characteristics of the negative control effect in order to help future research implemented by TNT to obtain the inhibitory control processes to study motivated forgetting. A recent discussion on the neural mechanisms of motivated forgetting has accumulated a great deal of research evidence. Electroencephalography(EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging(f MRI) are two widely used brain techniques to determine these inhibitory control processes of motivated forgetting. First, ERP studies of motivated forgetting using the TNT paradigm have revealed a smaller parietal episodic memory effect appears 400-800 ms after target stimulus onset during the memory retrieval suppression. Moreover, ERP evidence has indicated that N2, which indexes cognitive control, is larger during retrieval suppression. Recent EEG studies of motivated forgetting have revealed an increase of alpha and theta oscillations of memory suppression. More interestingly, f MRI evidence has showed that suppressing awareness of an unwelcome memory was achieved by inhibitory control processes mediated by the lateral prefrontal cortex. These mechanisms interact with brain regions that represent experiences in memory, disrupting traces that support retention. Moreover, suppressing retrieval of unwanted memories not only modulates medial temporal lobe regions involved in explicit retention, but also neocortical areas underlying unconscious expressions of memory. However, since EEG and f MRI measure different aspects of the brain activities, the neural mechanism revealed by f MRI and electrophysiology indices supported by EEG of motivated forgetting needs an integrated review. In this review, we firstly summarized current existing TNT research using EEG and f MRI techniques, and then proposed a multi-modal functional network model of motivated forgetting. In this model, we suggested some potential relationships between the neural mechanism revealed by f MRI and electrophysiology indices supported by EEG. Therefore, our multi-modal functional network model provided a more comprehensive understanding of inhibitory control processes of motivated forgetting. Based on this model, we then outlined some future research directions of TNT paradigm. Most importantly, we think the application of simultaneous EEG-f MRI technology is expected to reveal the dynamic process of motivated forgetting induced by memory suppression. Finally, because the ability of memory inhibition can represent individual’s mental health, future research on the neural mechanisms of motivated forgetting will have broad clinical applications. The purpose of this review, obviously, is to give a more integrated perspective of the current research of motivated forgetting using the TNT paradigm. However, far more work needs to be done to test our multi-modal functional network model of motivated forgetting.
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