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Interaction of noradrenaline and cortisol predicts negative intrusive memories in posttraumatic stress disorder


Nicholson, EL and Bryant, RA and Felmingham, KL, Interaction of noradrenaline and cortisol predicts negative intrusive memories in posttraumatic stress disorder, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 112 pp. 204-211. ISSN 1074-7427 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Elsevier Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.nlm.2013.11.018


Recent evidence suggests that an interaction of noradrenaline (NE) and cortisol (CORT) during encoding leads to greater consolidation of emotional memories. Convergent models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suggest the release of CORT and NE lead to greater intrusive memories in PTSD. This study examined the effect of NE and CORT during encoding on recall and intrusive memories in PTSD. Fifty-eight participants (18 participants with PTSD, 20 trauma-exposed controls, and 20 non-trauma exposed controls) provided saliva samples of NE (indexed by salivary alpha amylase; sAA) and CORT at (a) baseline and (b) after viewing negative emotional stimuli. Delayed memory recall and number of intrusive memories of negative, neutral and positive stimuli were recorded two days after this initial testing session. The PTSD group had greater NE levels to negative stimuli and reported greater numbers of intrusive memories of negative stimuli than controls. Regression analyses revealed that the interaction of CORT and NE significantly predicted negative intrusive memories in the PTSD group. The trauma-exposed group reported significantly greater recall of negative images compared to controls, but did not differ significantly from the PTSD group. The PTSD group reported greater levels of suppression of negative images during encoding compared to the other groups. Our results confirm that the interaction of NE and CORT significantly predicts greater negative intrusive memories, but this occurs specifically in the PTSD group. This suggests that a level of heightened arousal is required for the relationship between stress hormones and emotional memory to manifest in PTSD.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:PTSD, emotional memory, noradrenaline, cortisol
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Nicholson, EL (Ms Emma Nicholson)
UTAS Author:Felmingham, KL (Professor Kim Felmingham)
ID Code:87875
Year Published:2014 (online first 2013)
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2013-12-12
Last Modified:2017-01-11
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