Selective memory does exist: Scientists

London: Want to forget those embarrassing moments completely? Well, you can do so by repressing those memories for a longer period, scientists say.

Researchers at the Lund University in Sweden found that selective memory really exists and people can train their minds to erase all their unpleasant memories by suppressing them for a longer period.

Using EEG scans, the scientists noted the parts of study participants` brains became active when actively trying to forget something.

They were also able to pinpoint the exact moment a memory is "forgotten", and claimed that long-term suppression of a memory is a sure fire way of permanently erasing it, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Mastering the technique could be useful for people who suffer from depression or post traumatic stress disorder, the researchers said.

"We know that `forgotten` or repressed feelings often manifest themselves as physiological reactions," said study author Gerd Thomas Waldhauser.

"Our volunteers were trained to forget neutral information in a controlled laboratory environment. Training to forget a traumatic event would be more complex."

The study has not only shown that one can deliberately forget things, through EEG measurements, the researchers have also managed to capture the exact moment when the memory is inhibited, that is when the forgetfulness is imposed.

Waldhauser said: "The inhibition of memory eases off after a few hours. But the more often information is suppressed, the more difficult it becomes to retrieve it."

"If the memories have been suppressed over a long period of time, they could be extremely difficult to retrieve," he added.