Popular Science

Your brain and body remember trauma differently than other events

How fear makes your brain write memories differently.
girl suffering traumatic memories

A traumatic memory can be near impossible to shake.

Carolina Heza/Unsplash, CC BY

Most of what you experience leaves no trace in your memory. Learning new information often requires a lot of effort and repetition—picture studying for a tough exam or mastering the tasks of a new job. It’s easy to forget what you’ve learned, and recalling details of the past can sometimes be challenging.

But some past experiences can keep haunting you for years. Life-threatening events—things like getting mugged or escaping from a fire—can be impossible to forget, even if you make every possible effort. Recent developments in the Supreme Court nomination hearings and the associated #WhyIDidntReport action on have rattled the public and raised questions about the nature, role, and impact of these kinds of traumatic memories.

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