A drug that is used to lower the stress hormone levels can benefit those who suffer from psychological trauma by limiting the long term impact of bad memories.
Researchers led by Marie-France Marin from the University of Montreal found that cortisol hormone, which causes increases stress, is also linked to how a person recalls a memory. The researchers then conducted a study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, on 33 men with no previous history of trauma and gave them metyrapone, which reduces the cortisol levels in the body.
AdvertisementThe participants were shown 11 slides each, with slide numbers 5 to 8 showing negative images while the other slides showed neutral images. The participants were then divided into three groups and three days later were given a single dose of metyrapone, a double dose of metyrapone and the final group was given a placebo.
The participants were then asked to describe the slides immediately and four days later and the researchers found that those who had been given the drug were unable to clearly recall the slides that displayed negative images.
"When everyone's cortisol levels are equivalent because the drug has cleared out from the body, the memory trace is still lower in people who had received the metyrapone. The effect is specific to the negative information, so it leaves neutral memories unaffected", Marin said.
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