Memory Creation and Modification: Enhancing the Treatment of Psychological Disorders

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Modification of the ongoing influence of maladaptive cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns is a fundamental feature of many psychological treatments. Accordingly, a clear understanding of the nature of memory adaptation and accommodation to therapeutic learning becomes an important issue for (1) understanding the impact of clinical interventions, and (2) considering innovations in treatment strategies. In this article, we consider advances in the conceptualization of memory processes and memory modification research relative to clinical treatment. We review basic research on the formation of memories, the way in which new learning is integrated within memory structures, and strategies to influence the nature and degree to which new learning is integrated. We then discuss cognitive/behavioral and pharmacological strategies for influencing memory formation in relation to disorder prevention or treatment. Our goal is to foster awareness of current strategies for enhancing therapeutic learning and to encourage research on potential new avenues for memory enhancement in service of the treatment of mental health disorders.

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