Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Effects of acute cortisol administration on perceptual priming of trauma-related material


Holz, Elena; Lass-Hennemann, Johanna; Streb, Markus; Pfaltz, Monique; Michael, Tanja (2014). Effects of acute cortisol administration on perceptual priming of trauma-related material. PLoS ONE, 9(9):e104864.

Abstract

Intrusive memories are a hallmark symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They reflect excessive and uncontrolled retrieval of the traumatic memory. Acute elevations of cortisol are known to impair the retrieval of already stored memory information. Thus, continuous cortisol administration might help in reducing intrusive memories in PTSD. Strong perceptual priming for neutral stimuli associated with a “traumatic” context has been shown to be one important learning mechanism that leads to intrusive memories. However, the memory modulating effects of cortisol have only been shown for explicit declarative memory processes. Thus, in our double blind, placebo controlled study we aimed to investigate whether cortisol influences perceptual priming of neutral stimuli that appeared in a “traumatic” context. Two groups of healthy volunteers (N = 160) watched either neutral or “traumatic” picture stories on a computer screen. Neutral objects were presented in between the pictures. Memory for these neutral objects was tested after 24 hours with a perceptual priming task and an explicit memory task. Prior to memory testing half of the participants in each group received 25 mg of cortisol, the other half received placebo. In the placebo group participants in the “traumatic” stories condition showed more perceptual priming for the neutral objects than participants in the neutral stories condition, indicating a strong perceptual priming effect for neutral stimuli presented in a “traumatic” context. In the cortisol group this effect was not present: Participants in the neutral stories and participants in the “traumatic” stories condition in the cortisol group showed comparable priming effects for the neutral objects. Our findings show that cortisol inhibits perceptual priming for neutral stimuli that appeared in a “traumatic” context. These findings indicate that cortisol influences PTSD-relevant memory processes and thus further support the idea that administration of cortisol might be an effective treatment strategy in reducing intrusive reexperiencing.

Abstract

Intrusive memories are a hallmark symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They reflect excessive and uncontrolled retrieval of the traumatic memory. Acute elevations of cortisol are known to impair the retrieval of already stored memory information. Thus, continuous cortisol administration might help in reducing intrusive memories in PTSD. Strong perceptual priming for neutral stimuli associated with a “traumatic” context has been shown to be one important learning mechanism that leads to intrusive memories. However, the memory modulating effects of cortisol have only been shown for explicit declarative memory processes. Thus, in our double blind, placebo controlled study we aimed to investigate whether cortisol influences perceptual priming of neutral stimuli that appeared in a “traumatic” context. Two groups of healthy volunteers (N = 160) watched either neutral or “traumatic” picture stories on a computer screen. Neutral objects were presented in between the pictures. Memory for these neutral objects was tested after 24 hours with a perceptual priming task and an explicit memory task. Prior to memory testing half of the participants in each group received 25 mg of cortisol, the other half received placebo. In the placebo group participants in the “traumatic” stories condition showed more perceptual priming for the neutral objects than participants in the neutral stories condition, indicating a strong perceptual priming effect for neutral stimuli presented in a “traumatic” context. In the cortisol group this effect was not present: Participants in the neutral stories and participants in the “traumatic” stories condition in the cortisol group showed comparable priming effects for the neutral objects. Our findings show that cortisol inhibits perceptual priming for neutral stimuli that appeared in a “traumatic” context. These findings indicate that cortisol influences PTSD-relevant memory processes and thus further support the idea that administration of cortisol might be an effective treatment strategy in reducing intrusive reexperiencing.

Statistics

Citations

5 citations in Web of Science®
4 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

14 downloads since deposited on 19 Dec 2014
7 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Klinik für Konsiliarpsychiatrie und Psychosomatik
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:19 Dec 2014 21:30
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 09:24
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104864
PubMed ID:25192334

Download

Download PDF  'Effects of acute cortisol administration on perceptual priming of trauma-related material'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 299kB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)