Acute stress enhances memory for emotional words, but impairs memory for neutral words.

M. Jelicic*, E.G. Geraerts, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, R. Guerrieri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article examined effects of acute stress on memory for neutral and emotional words. participants (n=40) were exposed to either a psychosocial stressor or a control task, followed by a memory test. The stress hormone cortisol was measured in saliva before and after stress induction and after the memory test. Acute stress had a differential effect all memory such that recall of neutral words was impaired, whereas that of emotional words was enhanced. These effects on memory performance were not mediated by cortisol. The authors conclude that it makes little sense to speculate about memory effects and elevated levels of cortisol because such effects might depend on the valence of the material that is learned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1343-1351
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004

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