Stress and prospective memory: What is the role of cortisol?

Nicola Ballhausen*, Matthias Kliegel, Ulrike Rimmele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Studies investigating effects of acute stress on Prospective Memory (PM) so far yielded heterogeneous findings. Although results were commonly attributed to stress-induced changes in cortisol, past research did not disentangle effects of cortisol from the effects of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation and cognitive reappraisal. The present study therefore aimed at investigating the mere effect of cortisol on PM tasks that differently involve prefrontal brain regions (nonfocal vs. focal PM tasks) via a placebo-controlled oral pharmacological intake of 10 mg hydrocortisone mimicking physiological responses to stress. Contrary to our prediction, enhanced levels of cortisol did not affect PM accuracy and monitoring costs, neither for the focal nor the nonfocal PM tasks. These results suggest that changes of cortisol levels do not underlie potential stress effects on PM. Further exploratory results revealed that PM performance was higher in the 3 pm than in the 1 pm placebo group. This means that PM performance, independently of effects of cortisol, seem to vary throughout the day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Volume161
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Prospective memory
  • Cortisol
  • Stress
  • Focality
  • Circadian rhythm
  • CORE EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS
  • WORKING-MEMORY
  • SOCIAL STRESS
  • METAANALYSIS
  • TIME
  • RETRIEVAL
  • RESPONSES
  • MODEL
  • TASK
  • LIFE

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