Pharmacy Practice Faculty Publications

Title

Post-learning Stress Enhances Long-term Memory and Differentially Influences Memory in Females Depending on Menstrual Stage

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1-2015

Journal Title

Acta Psychologica

ISSN

1873-6297

Volume

160

First Page

127

Last Page

133

DOI

10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.07.008

PubMed ID

26233730

Abstract

Most work has shown that post-learning stress enhances long-term memory; however, there have been recent inconsistencies in this literature. The purpose of the present study was to examine further the effects of post-learning stress on long-term memory and to explore any sex differences that may exist. Male and female participants learned a list of 42 words that varied in emotional valence and arousal level. Following encoding, participants completed a free recall assessment and then submerged their hand into a bath of ice cold (stress) or lukewarm (no stress) water for 3 min. The next day, participants were given free recall and recognition tests. Stressed participants recalled more words than non-stressed participants 24h after learning. Stress also enhanced female participants' recall of arousing words when they were in the follicular, but not luteal, phase. These findings replicate previous work examining post-learning stress effects on memory and implicate the involvement of sex-related hormones in such effects.

Keywords

Arousal, emotions, female, humans, hydrocortisone, learning, male, memory, long-term, menstrual cycle, mental recall, pain measurement, saliva, sex characteristics, stress, psychological, young adult