Glucocorticoids interact with emotion-induced noradrenergic activation in influencing different memory functions

Neuroscience. 2006;138(3):901-10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.07.049. Epub 2005 Nov 28.


Extensive evidence from rat and human studies indicates that glucocorticoid hormones influence cognitive performance. Posttraining activation of glucocorticoid-sensitive pathways dose-dependently enhances the consolidation of long-term memory. Glucocorticoid effects on memory consolidation rely on noradrenergic activation of the basolateral amygdala and interactions of the basolateral amygdala with other brain regions. Glucocorticoids interact with the noradrenergic system both at a postsynaptic level, increasing the efficacy of the beta-adrenoceptor-cyclic AMP/protein kinase A system, as well as presynaptically in brainstem noradrenergic cell groups that project to the basolateral amygdala. In contrast, memory retrieval and working memory performance are impaired with high circulating levels of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoid-induced impairment of these two memory functions also requires the integrity of the basolateral amygdala and the noradrenergic system. Such critical interactions between glucocorticoids and noradrenergic activation of the basolateral amygdala have important consequences for the role of emotional arousal in enabling glucocorticoid effects on these different memory functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Norepinephrine