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Article

Stress-Induced Increase in Cortisol Negatively Affects the Consolidation of Contextual Elements of Episodic Memories

Department of Psychology, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060358
Received: 14 April 2020 / Revised: 4 June 2020 / Accepted: 8 June 2020 / Published: 9 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Stress and Glucocorticoids in Learning and Memory)
Stress can modulate episodic memory in various ways. The present study asks how post-encoding stress affects visual context memory. Participants encoded object images centrally positioned on background scenes. After encoding, they were either exposed to cold pressure stress (CPS) or a warm water control procedure. Forty-right hours later, participants were cued with object images, and for each image, they were asked to select the background scene with which it was paired during study among three highly similar options. Only male but not female participants reacted with a significant increase in salivary cortisol to CPS, and the stress and control group did not differ in recognition performance. Comparing recognition performance between stress responders and non-responders, however, revealed a significant impairment in context memory in responders. Additionally, proportional increase in cortisol was negatively correlated with the number of correctly recognized scenes in responders. Due to the small number of responders, these findings need to be interpreted with caution but provide preliminary evidence that stress-induced cortisol increase negatively affects the consolidation of contextual elements of episodic memories. View Full-Text
Keywords: human memory consolidation; post-encoding stress; item-context binding; context memory human memory consolidation; post-encoding stress; item-context binding; context memory
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sabia, M.; Hupbach, A. Stress-Induced Increase in Cortisol Negatively Affects the Consolidation of Contextual Elements of Episodic Memories. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 358. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060358

AMA Style

Sabia M, Hupbach A. Stress-Induced Increase in Cortisol Negatively Affects the Consolidation of Contextual Elements of Episodic Memories. Brain Sciences. 2020; 10(6):358. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060358

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sabia, Matthew, and Almut Hupbach. 2020. "Stress-Induced Increase in Cortisol Negatively Affects the Consolidation of Contextual Elements of Episodic Memories" Brain Sciences 10, no. 6: 358. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060358

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