Doing Better by Getting Worse: Posthypnotic Amnesia Improves Random Number Generation

Terhune, Devin Blair and Brugger, Peter. 2011. Doing Better by Getting Worse: Posthypnotic Amnesia Improves Random Number Generation. PLoS ONE, 6(12), e29206. ISSN 1932-6203 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Although forgetting is often regarded as a deficit that we need to control to optimize cognitive functioning, it can have beneficial effects in a number of contexts. We examined whether disrupting memory for previous numerical responses would attenuate repetition avoidance (the tendency to avoid repeating the same number) during random number generation and thereby improve the randomness of responses. Low suggestible and low dissociative and high dissociative highly suggestible individuals completed a random number generation task in a control condition, following a posthypnotic amnesia suggestion to forget previous numerical responses, and in a second control condition following the cancellation of the suggestion. High dissociative highly suggestible participants displayed a selective increase in repetitions during posthypnotic amnesia, with equivalent repetition frequency to a random system, whereas the other two groups exhibited repetition avoidance across conditions. Our results demonstrate that temporarily disrupting memory for previous numerical responses improves random number generation.

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The research was supported by research grant 54/06 from the Bial Foundation and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Cogito Foundation, both to DBT. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Timing, Awareness, and Suggestion Lab


15 December 2011Published

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Date Deposited:

31 Mar 2016 14:57

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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