Taxing of the working memory and the accessibility of memories


Most laboratory studies concerning eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) have focused on investigating how EMDR reduces the vividness and emotionality of memories. There has however been less focus on what occurs to the accessibility of the memory following EMDR. To assess accessibility we utilized three experiments. In each participant’s encoded two pictorial stimuli (images), held one of them in-mind, and simultaneously performed or did not perform EMDR-like working memory taxing (WM-taxing) tasks. Participants then freely-recalled or recognized as many details as they could from both images. In experiments 1a and 1b we found that free-recalled accessibility was reduced for the image that was held in-mind whilst WM-taxing tasks were performed, compared to when no-WM-taxing tasks were performed. In experiment 2, accessibility was measured in reaction time (RT). Decreased accessibility (slower RT) was observed when an image was held in-mind whilst WM-taxing tasks were performed. The decrease in accessibility, along with an observed decrease in vividness, possibly helps to give a more complete picture of EMDR’s effectiveness. Additionally it demonstrates that the effects of EMDR can be observed via non self-report measures.






N. Bartelski

Original Work Citation



“Taxing of the working memory and the accessibility of memories,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 22, 2020,

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