Memory Control: A Fundamental Mechanism of Emotion Regulation

Trends Cogn Sci. 2018 Nov;22(11):982-995. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.07.015. Epub 2018 Aug 16.


Memories play a ubiquitous role in our emotional lives, both causing vivid emotional experiences in their own right and imbuing perception of the external world with emotional significance. Controlling the emotional impact of memories therefore poses a major emotion-regulation challenge, suggesting that there might be a hitherto unexplored link between the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying memory control (MC) and emotion regulation. We present here a theoretical account of how the mechanisms of MC constitute core component processes of cognitive emotion regulation (CER), and how this observation may help to understand its basic mechanisms and their disruption in psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: direct suppression; emotion regulation; inhibition; memory control; thought substitution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Self-Control*
  • Thinking / physiology*