Friday, April 02, 2010

Blocking the emotions of old memories.

Dolan and collaborators do an interesting study showing that beta-adrenergic blockers (which are known to block the initial storage of emotions along with declarative memory of an event) can later also strip away the emotional memories associated with an event during its recall, an effect which persists for at least 24 hours in the absence of the blocker . The abstract:
Memory enhancement for emotional events is dependent on amygdala activation and noradrenergic modulation during learning. A potential role for noradrenaline (NE) during retrieval of emotional memory is less well understood. Here, we report that administration of the β-adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol at retrieval abolishes a declarative memory enhancement for emotional items. Critically, this effect persists at a subsequent 24 h memory test, in the absence of propranolol. Thus, these findings extend our current understanding of the role of NE in emotional memory to encompass effects at retrieval, and provide face validity to clinical interventions using β-adrenergic antagonists in conjunction with reactivation of unwanted memories in anxiety-related disorders.

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