Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About usNews and EventsNews articles

The crippling homunculus: inefficient executive control and the persistence of intrusive memories

26 February 2009

PhD ceremony: J.R.L. Verwoerd, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: The crippling homunculus: inefficient executive control and the persistence of intrusive memories

Promotor(s): prof. P.J. de Jong

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences


Research has shown that about two-third of the general population will be exposed to a traumatic event at least once in their lives. The emotional impact of a traumatic event (e.g., a major traffic accident) may largely disrupt normal memory functioning. In the aftermath of trauma, most people are confronted with unexpected and unwanted reliving experiences of parts of the event, commonly known as intrusive memories. These mainly visual images are accompanied with strong emotional responses (e.g., fear, shame), which could hinder normal daily life for weeks. After some time, the majority of the trauma survivors will be able to gain control over the stressful intrusive memories and refocus their attention on work and family life. However, a small number of the survivors would show a persistence of intrusive re-experiencing for months or even years. This group would eventually develop a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This raises the question of how this difference in control between people who show natural recovery and people with persistent intrusions and PTSD could be explained. The key question of this dissertation was whether an innate or early acquired flexibility/capacity to resist unwanted information from consciousness would contribute to regaining control over disruptive memory functioning and support natural recovery after trauma. In five analogue studies (using undergraduates as research participants), it was shown that flexible control over the contents of consciousness prior to experiencing a stressful event (e.g., a trauma-film) would provide people the tools to reduce the frequency of intrusive memories after trauma.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.39 p.m.
printView this page in: Nederlands

More news

  • 25 June 2019

    Full speed ahead towards a green university

    Dick Jager isn’t one to give up easily. Since the late 1990s, he has been working to make the University of Groningen more sustainable. His journey has been a struggle, with the road often peppered with obstacles. But now things are going his way....

  • 21 June 2019

    Van Rijn’s multi-million euro reduction disastrous for UG

    The Cabinet’s decision, based on the advice of the Van Rijn committee, will have disastrous consequences for the University of Groningen as a broad-based classical university.

  • 20 June 2019

    UG climbs to 114th place in the QS Ranking

    The University of Groningen (UG) holds the 114th place in the QS World University Rankings. The QS Ranking is an influential ranking list of almost 1,000 universities worldwide. Last year the UG held the120th place.