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Cortisol suppression after memory reactivation impairs later memory performance

Published in Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019
Abstract Experiencing stressful or traumatic events can result in disabling clinical symptoms of maladaptive emotional memory retrieval, which are only partly addressed by the currently proposed treatments. Cortisol modulation has been shown to affect emotional memory retrieval and potentially reconsolidation, offering an opportunity for developing more efficient treatments for disorders with an emotional memory component. Here, we investigated if cortisol suppression after reactivation of emotional memories weakens later memory thereof. Forty healthy young men were tested in a randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind, and between-subject design, assigned either to a cortisol suppression (metyrapone) group or a placebo group. Participants of both groups, were presented with two emotional stories at an encoding session (Day 1). One of the two stories was later reactivated and followed by metyrapone vs. placebo administration (Day 3). Memory for both stories was tested at a recognition memory session (Day 7). In the group undergoing cortisol suppression after memory reactivation memory performance was weaker compared to the placebo group, tested four days after reactivation. This study shows that cortisol suppression can weaken memory for past events, possibly by altering reconsolidation processes and thus exerting long-lasting weakening effects on the original memory.
Keywords CortisolMetyraponeMemoryReconsolidationEmotion
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Research groups Mécanismes cérébraux du comportement et des fonctions cognitives (701)
Affective sciences
Projects FNS: PZ00P1_137126 and PZ00P1_160861
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ANTYPA, Argyro-Despoina et al. Cortisol suppression after memory reactivation impairs later memory performance. In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.03.035 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:116825

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Deposited on : 2019-05-02

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