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Witnessing the suffering of others, for instance, in hospital emergency rooms but also through televised images in news or reality programs, may be associated with the occurrence of later intrusive memories. The factors contributing to why some people develop intrusive memories and others do not are still poorly understood. N = 121 healthy women were exposed to film scenes showing the suffering of dying, severely injured, and mourning people while their EEG was recorded. Individuals showing greater decreases of functional coupling between prefrontal and posterior cortices (greater decreases of EEG beta coherences) reported more intrusive memories of the witnessed events. This was shown for intrusions in the short term (immediately after viewing the film) as well as in the medium term (intrusive memories over 1 week). The findings illuminate brain mechanisms involved in the encoding of information in ways that make intrusive memories more likely.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





546 - 555


EEG coherence, Implicit memory, Intrahemispheric communication, Intrusions, Top-down modulation, Adolescent, Adult, Electroencephalography, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Prefrontal Cortex, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, Stress, Psychological, Young Adult