Flashbulb memory

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Flashbulb Memory

Brown and Kulik proposed a theory of the formation and maintenance of FBMs. According to their theory, FBMs form in situations where we encounter surprising and highly emotional information. They are maintained by means of overt rehearsal (involving discussion with others) and covert rehearsal (private rehearsing or ruminating). They differ from other memories in that they are more vivid, last longer, and are more consistent and accurate. In order for them to be created, they require the involvement of a specialised neural mechanism which stores information permanently in a unique memory system.

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Brown and Kulik (1977) asked 80 American participants (40 white and 40 black) to answer questions about 10 events. Nine of the events were mostly assassinations or attempted assassinations of well-known American personalities (e.g. J.F.K, Martin Luther King). The tenth was a self-selected event of personal relevance and involving unexpected shock e.g. death of a friend or a serious accident. Participants were asked to recall the circumstances they found themselves in when they first heard the news about the 10 events. They were also asked to indicate how often they had rehearsed the information. These events were expected to cause ...

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