The Power of Suggestion

Although amazing, our hippocampus and amygdala have their limitations.  Both are a part of our brain’s limbic system, and both play roles in our memory systems. The synergy between the two are suspected to play a significant role in the long-term storage of emotional memories.  Yet, according to J.E. LeDoux, “Emotions are conscious products of unconscious processes.” Here is the kicker and reason for this post.

Emotions influence our declarative memories, and leave remnants of consequences from our emotional responses. These neural transmissions sometimes bypass the usual (longer) route for memory storage and recollection. Hence, this explains why a particular sound or smell may evoke a feeling of anxiousness, without you completely understanding or remembering the event responsible for the behavioral response.  Without corroboration of physical evidence, verifying reported memories can be difficult.  However, this does not mean  they are not true.

Unfortunately, research studies have demonstrated guided retrieval of memories can appear genuine to participants, especially when the participant feels pressured to remember a difficult-to-recall event.  A suggestion as simple as, “imagine this event and the sights and sounds around you, but don’t worry about the accuracy of your memories”, has been shown to elicit completely false memories or disassociated memories.

False memories of events never occurred, whereas disassociated memories are truthful and guided components of memories that meld into one memory. Previous truthful components of memories and guided components become indistinguishable.  The power of suggestion is noteworthy.

~ Dr. Michelle Doscher

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Time for a mind and body detox?

The holidays are my favorite time of the year, when I am not stressed to meet deadlines, fighting a wicked cold, trying to outsmart even the savviest professional shopper, and appearing jovial throughout the gloomiest of frigid days!  Woohoo, that was cathartic.  So, how should we prepare for the holidays?

Prayer or meditation opens your mind and allows you to release and shrug off the weight of daily doldrums.  Walking to and from a neighbor’s house to say “hello”, stimulates endorphin production to help ease bodily aches and elevate your mood.  By reducing cortisol levels, you are making your heart healthier and reducing your risk for osteoporosis.  Your body thanks you!

Did you know the above tips also help reduce adrenaline levels, which tend to be over the top, in us high energy, anxious Type A personalities?  If you know a child or adult who is battling attention deficit disorder (ADD)or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), share these tidbits with them as well.

On to detoxing our bodies… you are what you eat and [drink]!  Some of you may remember the elephant posters in school cafeterias back in the 1970’s with this slogan.  I, of course, took it to mean I had the potential to become an elephant.  Not the intention of the American Dietary Association.  I believe they were thinking more along the lines of not replacing molasses for motor oil in your car’s engine.

Although the intentions of the “healthier” fast-food establishments are to provide daily nutritional meals, fresh vegetables are rarely on their menus.  Hence, too many of us are lacking in our daily magnesium intake.  Why magnesium?   Your heart, bones, and brain will thank you.  A time-released high-absorbency magnesium vitamin is best, which I have found at Jigsaw Health.com.  Of course, consult with a medical professional before taking my advice.

Here’s to a happier and healthier you! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all!

Michelle Doscher, PhD

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