1999 Curt P. Richter award. Glucocorticoids and the regulation of memory consolidation

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2000 Apr;25(3):213-38. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4530(99)00058-x.


This paper summarizes recent findings on the amygdala's role in mediating acute effects of glucocorticoids on memory consolidation in rats. Posttraining activation of glucocorticoid-sensitive pathways involving glucocorticoid receptors (GRs or type II) enhances memory consolidation in a dose-dependent inverted-U fashion. Selective lesions of the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) or infusions of beta-adrenoceptor antagonists into the BLA block the memory-modulatory effects of systemic injections of glucocorticoids. Additionally, posttraining infusions of a specific GR agonist administered directly into the BLA enhance memory consolidation, whereas those of a GR antagonist impair. These findings indicate that glucocorticoid effects on memory consolidation are mediated, in part, by an activation of GRs in the BLA and that the effects require beta-adrenergic activity in the BLA. Other findings indicate that the BLA interacts with the hippocampus in mediating glucocorticoid-induced modulatory influences on memory consolidation. Lesions of the BLA or inactivation of beta-adrenoceptors within the BLA also block the memory-modulatory effects of intrahippocampal administration of a GR agonist or antagonist. These findings are in agreement with the general hypothesis that the BLA integrates hormonal and neuromodulatory influences on memory consolidation. However, the BLA is not a permanent locus of storage for this information, but modulates consolidation processes for explicit/associative memories in other brain regions, including the hippocampus.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / drug effects
  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Awards and Prizes
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucocorticoids / history
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • History, 20th Century
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurobiology / history
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Norepinephrine