Memory for neutral, emotional and trauma-related information in sexual abuse survivors.

TitleMemory for neutral, emotional and trauma-related information in sexual abuse survivors.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuteursForest, M, Blanchette, I
JournalEur J Psychotraumatol
Date Published2018

Previous studies have shown that trauma-exposed individuals, including survivors of sexual abuse, show inferior performance in episodic memory tasks compared to non-exposed controls. This, however, has mainly been tested using neutral content. Our goal in this study was to determine whether this relative impairment in episodic memory extends to generally emotional and trauma-related content. Twenty-seven sexual abuse survivors and 27 control women participated in the study. They listened to stories with three content types (neutral, generally emotional and trauma-related) and performed a free-recall task immediately and 30 minutes later. Sexual abuse survivors showed poorer recall of neutral material compared to control participants. Lower recall was also observed for generally emotional content. However, importantly, there was no difference between groups in the recall of trauma-related content. The main novel contribution of this study is the demonstration that verbal episodic memory is not impaired for non-autobiographical trauma-related content in sexual abuse survivors. We discuss how this could be explained by personal relevance and attentional capture.

Alternate JournalEur J Psychotraumatol
PubMed ID30275933
PubMed Central IDPMC6161603