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Title

Emotional memory can be persistently weakened by suppressing cortisol during retrieval

Authors
Besedovsky, Luciana
Lange, Tanja
Born, Jan
Published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2015, vol. 119, p. 102-107
Abstract Cortisol's effects on memory follow an inverted U-shaped function such that memory retrieval is impaired with very low concentrations, presumably due to insufficient activation of high-affine mineralocorticoid receptors (MR), or with very high concentrations, due to predominant low-affine glucocorticoid receptor (GR) activation. Through corresponding changes in re-encoding, the retrieval effect of cortisol might translate into a persistent change of the retrieved memory. We tested whether partial suppression of morning cortisol synthesis by metyrapone, leading to intermediate, circadian nadir-like levels with presumed predominant MR activation, improves retrieval, particularly of emotional memory, and persistently changes the memory. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, within-subject cross-over design, 18 men were orally administered metyrapone (1g) vs. placebo at 4:00AM to suppress the morning cortisol rise. Retrieval of emotional and neutral texts and pictures (learned 3days earlier) was assessed 4h after substance administration, and a second time one week later. Metyrapone suppressed endogenous cortisol release to circadian nadir-equivalent levels at the time of retrieval testing. Contrary to our expectations, metyrapone significantly impaired free recall of emotional texts (p<.05), whereas retrieval of neutral texts or pictures remained unaffected. One week later, participants still showed lower memory for emotional texts in the metyrapone than placebo condition (p<.05). Our finding, that suppressing morning cortisol to nadir-like concentrations not only impairs acute retrieval, but also persistently weakens emotional memories corroborate the concept that retrieval effects of cortisol produce persistent memory changes, possibly by affecting re-encoding.
Identifiers
PMID: 25680817
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Article (Published version) (881 Kb) - public document Free access
Structures
Research group Mécanismes cérébraux du comportement et des fonctions cognitives (701)
Projects FNS: Ambizione
FP7: Marie Curie Career Integration Grant
Citation
(ISO format)
RIMMELE, Ulrike et al. Emotional memory can be persistently weakened by suppressing cortisol during retrieval. In: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 2015, vol. 119, p. 102-107. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:55478

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Deposited on : 2015-04-13

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