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The Index of Intrusion Control (IIC): Capturing individual variability in intentional intrusion control in the laboratory.

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Ashton, Stephanie M  ORCID logo
Gagnepain, Pierre 
Davidson, Per 
Hellerstedt, Robin 
Satish, Akul 


Intrusive memories can be downregulated using intentional memory control, as measured via the Think/No-Think paradigm. In this task, participants retrieve or suppress memories in response to an associated reminder cue. After each suppression trial, participants rate whether the association intruded into awareness. Previous research has found that repeatedly exerting intentional control over memory intrusions reduces their frequency. This decrease is often summarised with a linear index, which may miss more complex patterns characterising the temporal dynamics of intrusion control. The goal of this paper is to propose a novel metric of intrusion control that captures those dynamic changes over time as a single index. Results from a mega-analysis of published datasets revealed that the change in intrusion frequencies across time is not purely linear, but also includes non-linear dynamics that seem best captured by a log function of the number of suppression attempts. To capture those linear and non-linear dynamics, we propose the Index of Intrusion Control (IIC), which relies on the integral of intrusion changes across suppression attempts. Simulations revealed that the IIC best captured the linear and non-linear dynamics of intrusion suppression when compared with other linear or non-linear indexes of control, such as the regression slope or Spearman correlation, respectively. Our findings demonstrate how the IIC may therefore act as a more reliable metric to capture individual differences in intrusion control, and examine the role of non-linear dynamics characterizing the conscious access to unwanted memories.


Acknowledgements: Thank you to Marcus Harrington for his comments on the manuscript, Marieke Schor for her guidance on the systematic literature search, and all authors who contributed their data.


Index of Intrusion Control (IIC), Intentional memory control, Intrusions, Think/No-Think task

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Behav Res Methods

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC