Magazine article Science News

Stress Hormones Hike Emotional Memories

Magazine article Science News

Stress Hormones Hike Emotional Memories

Article excerpt

Intense feelings triggered by a stressful or emotional event help preserve memories of that experience, in large part by activating a class of stress hormones responsible for storing emotionally charged information, according to a report in the Oct. 20 NATURE. Drugs widely used to combat high blood pressure and heart disease block these hormones and apparently worsen memories of emotional and exciting events, the study concludes.

These findings contrast with evidence that although people place great confidence in vivid recollections of thoughts, feelings, and activities at the time of learning of a startling event, these socalled flashbulb memories prove highly inaccurate (SN: 3/13/93, p. 166).

"Memory is fallible in the real world, but stronger emotional experiences make for stronger, more reliable memories," contends James L. McGaugh, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine. "We now have a laboratory example of this process and how it works biologically."

McGaugh collaborated with Irvine psychologist Larry Cahill and two cardiologists at the Long Beach (Calif.) Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bruce Prins and Michael Weber.

They presented 19 women and 17 men with one of two recorded stories, each accompanied by 12 slides that portrayed the story. The emotionally neutral story described a boy's visit to a hospital and his observation of a surgical team performing a disaster drill. The emotionally arousing story told of a boy critically injured and rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.