MemoTV investigates the mechanisms through which stressful experiences shape memories in humans on epigenetic, neural and behavioural/cognitive levels. We will explore how these memories interact with cultural settings in ways that result in malfunctioning and mental suffering. Frequent exposure to the severe stressors associated with domestic and organised violence leads to the detrimental conditions associated with extreme and traumatic stress. Such exposure reorganises the functioning of the brain and mind in a lasting, self-perpetuating manner so that even very subtle cues, sometimes merely arising from imaginative processes alone, can continuously activate a corresponding stage of the defence cascade.
We will investigate survivors of organised and domestic violence in different cultural settings: the German trauma clinic, Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, the townships of South Africa and a Burundian peace corps. Specifically, with regard to violence and trauma, MemoTV's ultimate goal is to identify the psycho-physiological mechanisms that lastingly alter the functional organisation of brain and mind. As means for suggesting methods to prevent and potentially reverse the consequences of maladaptive plasticity, MemoTV focuses on the exposure to and exertion of violence: (1) These extreme and intense stressors are thought to produce lasting changes. Reversing clinical symptoms and improving psychological functioning through treatment provides the detection of causal mechanisms. (2) The applicant’s group has demonstrated international leadership and expertise in field work in war-torn crisis regions. (3) The detection and influence of the mechanisms that govern the cycle of violence and adversity is a highly relevant societal topic.
With its bold attempt to redefine the mind and its related functional brain organisation as interactive processes in the co-construction of humans from their genetic and socio-cultural systems, MemoTV
enters an uncharted territory.
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