Open Access Emotionality of Loss-Related Memories Is Reduced After Recall Plus Eye Movements But Not After Recall Plus Music or Recall Only

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Numerous studies have shown that eye movements during recall of negative memories reduce their emotionality. We investigated whether these findings can be extended specifically to negative memories of loss. Sixty undergraduate students participated and recalled a negative autobiographical memory of loss and performed—in counterbalanced order—three types of tasks: recall-plus-eye-movements, recall-only, and recall-plus-relaxing-music. Recall-plus-music was added to investigate whether reductions in emotionality are associated with relaxation. Levels of emotionality, relaxation, and concentration were assessed before and after each stimulus condition. Participants reported a greater decline in emotionality and concentration after eye movements in comparison to recall-only and recall-with-music. It is concluded that eye movements are effective when negative memories pertain to loss and grief, suggesting possibilities for treatment intervention in individuals suffering from complicated grief.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of EMDR Practice and Research is a quarterly, peer-reviewed publication devoted to integrative, state-of-the-art papers about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a broadly conceived interdisciplinary journal that stimulates and communicates research and theory about EMDR, and their application to clinical practice.
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