Propranolol selectively blocks the enhanced parietal old/new effect during long-term recollection of unpleasant pictures: a high density ERP study.
Author(s): Weymar M, Low A, Modess C, Engel G, Grundling M, Petersmann A, Siegmund W, Hamm AO
Affiliation(s): Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, University of Greifswald, Franz-Mehring-Strasse 47, 17487 Greifswald, Germany.
Publication date & source: 2010-02-01, Neuroimage., 49(3):2800-6. Epub 2009 Oct 23.
Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Evidence from both animal and human research suggests that the formation of emotional memories is triggered by the beta-adrenergic system. To confirm whether modulation of central beta-adrenergic transmission is specifically involved in the neural signature of memory performance, the pre-encoding effect of propranolol (80 mg) on event-related potentials (ERPs) was measured in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group study in 46 male healthy subjects using high density EEG and source imaging analysis during encoding and retrieval (after 1 week) of IAPS pictures of unpleasant, neutral and pleasant contents; for recognition 90 old pictures were randomly mixed with 90 new pictures. During retrieval correctly remembered old pictures elicited a significantly larger positive voltage change over the centro-parietal cortex than new pictures. Propranolol significantly reduced this old/new difference of the mean ERP amplitudes (500-800 ms) for unpleasant but not for neutral and pleasant memories. This effect correlated with salivary alpha-amylase activity, a surrogate for central adrenergic stimulation. In conclusion, propranolol selectively blocked the neural signature of unpleasant memories by mechanisms in which the parietal cortex seems to be specifically involved. Copyright (c) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.