SUBSTANTIAL evidence from animal studies suggests that enhanced memory associated with emotional arousal results from an activation of β-adrenergic stress hormone systems during and after an emotional experience1–3. To examine this implication in human subjects, we investigated the effect of the β-adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol hydrochloride on long-term memory for an emotionally arousing short story, or a closely matched but more emotionally neutral story. We report here that propranolol significantly impaired memory of the emotionally arousing story but did not affect memory of the emotionally neutral story. The impairing effect of propranolol on memory of the emotional story was not due either to reduced emotional responsiveness or to nonspecific sedative or attentional effects. The results support the hypothesis that enhanced memory associated with emotional experiences involves activation of the β-adrenergic system.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
McGaugh, J. L. A. Rev. Neurosci. 12, 255–287 (1989).
McGaugh, J. L. et al. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 14, 425–431 (1990).
McGaugh, J. L. in Handbook of Emotion and Memory: Research and Theory (ed. Christian-son, S. A.) 245–268 (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, 1992).
Heuer, F. & Reisberg, D. Memory Cognition 18, 496–506 (1990).
Turkkan, J. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 12, 111–122 (1998).
Dimsdale, J., Newton, R. & Joist, T. Arch. int. Med. 149, 514–525 (1989).
Frankenhaeuser, M. in Emotions: Their Parameters and Measurement (ed. Levi, L.) 209–234 (Raven, New York, 1975).
McCarty, R. & Gold, P. E. Horm. Behav. 15, 168–182 (1981).
McGaugh, J. L. & Gold, P. E. in Psychoendocrinology (eds Brush, R. B. & Levine, S.) 305–339 (Academic, New York, 1989).
McGaugh, J. L. A. Rev. Psychol. 34, 297–323 (1983).
Arnst, A. F. T. & Goldman-Rakic, P. S. in Memory Dysfunctions: An Integration of Animal and Human Research from Clinical and Preclinical Perspectives (eds Olton, D. S., Gamzu, E. & Corkin, S.) 218–241 (N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1985).
Dennis, K., Froman, D., Morrison, A., Holmes, K. & Howes, D. Heart Lung 20, 459–463 (1991).
Solomon, S. et al. Arch. gen. Psychol. 40, 1109–1112 (1983).
McAinsh, J. & Cruikshank, J. M. Pharmac. exp. Ther. 46, 163–197 (1990).
Nies, A. S. in Cardiovascular Drug Therapy (ed. Messerli, F. H.) 420–441 (Saunders, Philadelphia, 1990).
Gold, P., Vogt, J. & Hall, J. Behav. Neural Biol. 46, 145–155 (1986).
McGaugh, J. L. in Memory Dysfunctions: An Integration of Animal and Human Research from Preclinical and Clinical Perspectives (eds Olton, D. S., Gamzu, E. & Corkin, S.) 150–161 (N.Y. Acad. Sci., New York, 1985).
Gallagher, M. et al. in The Amygdaloid Complex (ed. Ben-Ari, Y.) 343–354 (Elsevier/North Holland, Amsterdam, 1981).
About this article
Journal of Cognitive Enhancement (2019)
Psychological Research (2018)
Scientific Reports (2017)
npj Science of Learning (2016)