Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Samarth Varma (Donders series 376)

29 May 2019

Promotors and ): prof. dr. R. Kessels 
Co-promotors: dr. A. Takashima, dr. S. Daselaar†

Thoughts on Memory Consolidation : Effects of Thought Promotion & Suppression on Episodic Memory Consolidation

A century of research viewed rest as a quiet state of the brain, devoid of all mental effort, one that allows for ongoing consolidation to persevere undisturbed. Previous experiments showed that any mental effort could cause forgetting by withdrawing brain resources from consolidation-relevant activities. But recent research has uncovered an ongoing circus of conscious and unconscious imaginations, dreams, plans, worries thought that ensure in the background of all mental states. So, is rest really ideal? What makes a mental activity detrimental to memory consolidation? Can we suppress internal causes of forgetting? This doctoral thesis answers these questions by showing reduced forgetting when autobiographical thoughts and novel memory processing are suppressed by highly demanding, non-episodic or working memory tasks. In doing so, this research work reaffirms memory forgetting as a necessary tradeoff between ongoing consolidation and goal-directed memory processing.