Could a hippocampal “suppression mode” yield unintended consequences while driving down memory lane? A recent publication reviews the evidence.
Forgetting can be either a source of great frustration or one of great relief, depending on whether the memories in question are relevant to one’s immediate goals. Adopting an appropriate strategy or memory mode can help achieve these goals. But do efforts to control memory engender unintended side effects? Presently, we expand on a theoretical perspective of memory control, wherein efforts to suppress episodic encoding or retrieval result in the systemic downregulation of the hippocampal memory system. We review evidence from multiple methodologies, highlighting a non-invasive means of inducing amnesia that casts a shadow over memory for unrelated events. By establishing the causes and consequences of the amnesic side effects associated with memory control, we argue it may be possible to harness hippocampal dynamics to promote more adaptive memory performance in the lab, clinic, and broader context of daily life.