Memory Modulation

Modulation of potentially traumatic memories by behavioral strategies

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This interdisciplinary project investigates manipulations of memories in general and traumatic memories that may develop into a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in particular. In several experiments conducted at the Charité, we explore how and the extent to which traumatic memories can be effectively modulated by behavioral strategies. We apply a multi-methodological approach using structural und functional MRI, EEG, actigraphy, sleep research methodology and ecological valid behavior experiments.  
The empirical experiments are connected to an ethical-legal examination of the status of memories in the law. The project seeks to re-consider some substantive legal doctrines and procedural aspects in light of current memory research. With a special focus on trauma and the justice system, we also explore tensions between requirements of the law (e.g., victims and witnesses) and interventions into memories in various trauma therapies. In addition, we explore neuroimaging biomarkers of PTSD and their usability as evidence in court.

Group Coordinator

Group Members

  • Prof. Dr. Simone Kühn, Max Planck Institut for Human Development, Center for Lifespan Psychology and University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf, Clinic and Policlinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
  • Dr. Christoph Bublitz, University of Hamburg, Faculty of Law
  • Dr. Martin Dresler, Assistant Professor, Radboud University Medical Center, Donders Institute, Nijmegen, Netherlands and Max Planck Institut of Psychiatry, Munich

Research Staff

  • Dipl.-psych. Katharina Wermuth
  • Katharina Schmalen B.Sc.
  • Sally Di Maio B.Sc.
  • Nikolas Kopf, University of Hamburg, Faculty of Law
  • Konstanze Küchler

Funding

The project is based in four institutions, the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, the University of Hamburg and the Department of Psychiatry at the Charité as the project's administrative institution.  The research is funded by the "European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences and the Humanities" of the Volkswagen Foundation.

Selected Publications

  • Bublitz C., & Dresler M. (2014). A duty to remember, a right to forget? Memory Manipulations and the Law. In: Jens Clausen & Neil Levy (eds.), Springer Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer, p. 1279–1308.
  • Bublitz C., Dresler M., Kuehn S., Repantis D. (2016). Who Controls the Past Controls the Future: Reconsolidating Concerns Over Memory Manipulations. American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience American Journal of Bioethics - Neuroscience, 7 (4), S. 247 – 249 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2016.1251992