Cortisol-induced impairments of working memory require acute sympathetic activation.

Section of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands.
Behavioral Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.25). 03/2005; 119(1):98-103. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7044.119.1.98
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The present study assessed whether the effects of cortisol on working memory depend on the level of adrenergic activity (as measured by sympathetic activation) during memory performance. After exposure to a psychosocial stress task, participants were divided into cortisol responders and nonresponders. Cortisol responders showed working memory impairments during the psychosocial stress phase, when cortisol and adrenergic activity were enhanced, whereas nonresponders did not. During recovery, however, when cortisol levels were elevated but adrenergic activity was normalized, working memory of responders did not differ from that of nonresponders. Among several stress measures, cortisol was the only significant predictor for working memory performance during stress. These findings suggest that adrenergic activation is essential for the impairing effects of stress-induced cortisol on working memory.

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