Cortisol reduces recall of explicit contextual pain memory in healthy young men

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 Sep;35(8):1270-3. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.02.011. Epub 2010 Mar 7.

Abstract

Remembering painful incidents has important adaptive value but may also contribute to clinical symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and chronic pain states. Because glucocorticoids are known to impair memory retrieval processes, we investigated whether cortisol affects recall of previously experienced pain in healthy young men. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, 20 male participants were presented pictures, half of them combined with a heat-pain stimulus. The next day, the same pictures were shown in the absence of pain. Cortisol (20 mg) administered 1h before retention testing reduced recall of explicit contextual pain memory, whereas it did not affect pain threshold or pain tolerance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects
  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain / rehabilitation
  • Placebos
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Placebos
  • Hydrocortisone