Stress hormone helps in reviving old memories

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 06, 2015

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According to a recent research report, the stress hormone cortisol can be blamed responsible for reviving scary experiences in life. The study stated that if a person trying to remember a terrifying event has high stress hormone level, his/her memory of that particular event gets strengthened after each retrieval.

cortisol and memory

Oliver Wolf from Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, said that the results of the study can give an explanation as to why certain undesirable memories do not fade away, especially in people suffering from anxiety and PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers have through their study shown that cortisol has the ability to strengthen impact on consolidation of memories. They also suggested that cortisol affects memories in human beings even during reconsolidation i.e. consolidation of memories that occur post memory retrieval. The stress hormone, therefore, has been proven to enhance this process.

Strong memories of stressful experiences usually occur in the lives of most people, but they tend to fade away over time. But, in the case of people suffering from PTSD or anxiety, the terrifying experiences may haunt them, sometimes, for a lifetime.

In the study, the participants learnt the association between certain geometric shapes as well as an unpleasant electric shock on the first day. On the second day, the participants were given the cortisol pill and some others a placebo.

They were then showed the geometric shapes that were linked to the electric shock and on the third day, the memory for geometric shapes was given a test.
Those participants who were given the cortisol pill remembered the fear that was associated with the geometric shapes pretty well.

The study had been published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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