Research on the Memrec method

Scientific research is a process of years. With each new study we learn more about the Memrec method. On this page you can read more about the scientific research that led to the Memrec method.

About Merel Kindt

Prof. Merel Kindt is professor of Experimental Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She is the founder of the Memrec method as a treatment for phobias, panic and PTSD. She has been interested in fear from the start of her career.

She graduated cum laude from the UvA in 1991. She obtained her PhD on it in 1996 Cognitive processing in anxiety. Bias, inhibition and avoidance. After her training as a psychotherapist, she started working for Maastricht University. In 2003 she returned to Amsterdam as professor of Clinical Psychology.

After the discovery of the Memrec method and fundamental research into its operation and preconditions, she founded Kindt Clinics in 2018. The aim was to make the treatment available to a wider audience and to enable knowledge exchange between science and practice.

Merel works at Kindt Clinics for a few hours a week, but focuses mainly on further scientific research into Memrec at the UvA.

Why fear?

RIVM regularly publishes a top 10 of burden of disease. Anxiety disorders are in the top 5, along with coronary heart disease, stroke and COPD, among others.

Because of the enormous obstacle they can cause, anxiety disorders therefore have a great social relevance. This means that Merel Kindt has been fascinated by the subject from the start of her scientific career.

"People don't die of fear, but many would wish that"

- Barlow (anxiety researcher)

The investigation into Memrec in a nutshell

Merel Kindt's scientific research focuses on understanding the neurobiological and psychological processes of fear. The emphasis is on changes in the treatment of anxiety. While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in reducing anxiety in many anxiety disorders, in many cases the anxiety returns over time.

This seems to be because CBT is the anxious person response takes away, but not erases the original fear memory. Because the intact fear memory at a certain moment resurfaces, the fear returns.

For a long time it was thought that once learned fear was anchored in the brain forever. However, neuroscientists showed that memory is not as irreversible as thought. Research in animals and humans shows that by evoking a fear, we can bring it into an unstable state. In that unstable state, the fear trail can permanently changed.

Interfering with the fear memory reconsolidation process can thus prevent the fear from returning. This insight forms the basis of the Memrec method. By activating the fear memory and making it unstable, we can intervene in the reconsolidation process. Normally, the brain would store the newly activated fear again. By preventing this, by means of the beta blocker that disrupts this process once, the re-storage process does not take place.

Inaugural speech by Merel Kindt: Tomorrow from silk and without fear

In 2008 Merel Kindt became professor at the University of Amsterdam. Her inaugural address was entitled Tomorrow from silk and without fear, after the poem of Eurydice by Gerard Achterberg.

The reason's conclusion is: “Treatment [of anxiety] should not only focus on reinforcing new behavior as in recent decades, but primarily on the weakening of emotional memory. Only then can fear be permanently reduced. ”

Follow-up research into Memrec

At the UvA, scientists are constantly conducting follow-up research into the Memrec method. The emphasis in the research is now on determining the preconditions for successful treatment, such as the minimum or maximum duration of exposure, and the precise role of sleep in the reconsolidation process.

The research is also about the application of the Memrec method for other complaints, such as social anxiety and wider panic complaints.

Sometimes the researchers look for people who want treatment for their complaints for the purpose of the research. The department of the University of Amsterdam that is leading this research is called Psypoli.

Research participation

Researchers at the UvA are regularly looking for people who want treatment for their complaints for the purpose of research into the Memrec method.

At the moment there is room for people with a (broad) panic disorder.

For more information, go to www.psypoli.nl.

Scientific articles

Beyond extinction: Erasing human fear responses and preventing the return of fear.

Kindt, M., Soeter, M., & Vervliet, B. (2009). Beyond extinction: Erasing human fear responses and preventing the return of fear. Nature Neuroscience, 12, 256-258.

Prediction Error Governs Pharmacologically Induced Amnesia for Learned Fear

Sevenster, D., Beckers, T. & Kindt, M. (2013). Prediction error governs pharmacologically induced amnesia for learned fear. Science, 339, 830-833.

An Abrupt Transformation of Phobic Behavior After a Post-Retrieval Amnesic Agent

Soeter, M., & Kindt, M. (2015). An abrupt transformation of phobic behavior following a post-retrieval amnesic agent. Biological Psychiatry, 78, 880-886.

The surprising subtleties of changing fear memory: a challenge for translational science

Kindt, M. (2017). The surprising subtleties of changing fear memory: a challenge for translational science. Phil. Trans. R. Soc, B 373: 20170033.

Pharmacologically induced amnesia for learned fear is time and sleep dependent

Kindt, M. & Soeter, M. (2018). Pharmacologically induced amnesia for learned fear is time and sleep dependent. Nature Communications, 9, 1316.

Other publications

Merel Kindt has been involved in more than 150 publications in scientific journals.

View the complete overview >>

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