Sunday, 22 May 2005

This presentation is part of: Pre-College Reseach Posters

Traumatic Recall and Retention in Adolescents

Barry P. Shifrin, John F. Kennedy Memorial High School, Iselin, NJ

The aim of the study was to observe the effect that recalling details of traumatic life experiences has on retention of information in adolescents. The experiment was given in three parts, verbal-written-verbal, to a group of mixed-gender high school students. Subjects were given the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised, with a delay in which they completed an inventory of personal traumatic experiences that asked them to recall details of their trauma. Following this they completed the HVLT-R to serve as a basis of pre- and post-recall retention. Traumatic experiences, which vary from natural disasters to violent crimes to family deaths, can have a profound impact on human psychology. In mild cases, symptoms such as depression or physical sickness can persist after the experience, while severe cases can cause psychological disorders such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In a study by Yehuda, et al., a group of Vietnam War veterans diagnosed with PTSD showed no problems in immediate recall of data, but had major problems in delayed recall of information. While there are many ways to cope with trauma, periodic exposure to stimuli connected to the event may exacerbate symptoms and force a recall of emotions. Biological repression of emotion through hormones is possible, but this natural ability may be depleted through repeated use. Mental deficits may continue for several years, depending on the severity of the event. While certain coping methods may be employed, these do not always guarantee absolute freedom from mental disruption, which may affect everyday or academic concentration.

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