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MAGAZINE : Intelligence

Suppressing Emotions Leads To Poor Memory

Don’t be afraid to let go of your emotions, because this technique will help develop your memory. Trying to keep a lid on your emotions forces you to focus on keeping up appearances, and this is something your brain does NOT appreciate!

You can’t expect too much of your brain cells! Whether you’re stifling a giggle or fighting off your tears, maintaining control of your emotions puts quite a strain on your brain as it finds itself cut off from the proper functioning of its capacity to memorise. The result of this is that each time you dissimulate what you are feeling, you are actually 'producing' memory lapses.

Struggling to keep control of who you are perturbs your intelligence… who would’ve guessed? This hypothesis drove a team of American researchers to test the memory capacities of a group of volunteers. Participants were shown a movie excerpt wherein a husband admits to his wife that he is having an affair and that his mistress is pregnant, during which time their daughter is witnessing the whole discussion. This kind of situation would hardly leave a dry eye in the audience. One group of volunteers was asked to withhold their emotions during the projection. When the movie ended, this same group was asked to recall details of the excerpt. They were incapable of doing so. Whereas the other group of volunteers (who were asked to let emotions run liberally) had remembered every detail of what they had heard and seen.

By containing their emotions, people from the first group had unknowingly burdened their brains with the added job of staying in control. Their job in keeping total self-control had turned their attention away from the plot of the movie! This is exactly what happens when you “order” your brain to remain unemotional. The trick is to just let your emotions run wild.

In these conditions, the brain has nor the time, nor the space necessary to accomplish the work of memorisation. For example, try to recall the last time you had to hold back a tear or suppress a laugh because the social context was not appropriate… You will have a vague recollection of that instance. To determine the level of your memorisation capabilities, why not try our online test “Test Your Memory”?


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