Memory modulation

Behav Neurosci. 2011 Dec;125(6):797-824. doi: 10.1037/a0026187.


Our memories are not all created equally strong: Some experiences are well remembered while others are remembered poorly, if at all. Research on memory modulation investigates the neurobiological processes and systems that contribute to such differences in the strength of our memories. Extensive evidence from both animal and human research indicates that emotionally significant experiences activate hormonal and brain systems that regulate the consolidation of newly acquired memories. These effects are integrated through noradrenergic activation of the basolateral amygdala that regulates memory consolidation via interactions with many other brain regions involved in consolidating memories of recent experiences. Modulatory systems not only influence neurobiological processes underlying the consolidation of new information, but also affect other mnemonic processes, including memory extinction, memory recall, and working memory. In contrast to their enhancing effects on consolidation, adrenal stress hormones impair memory retrieval and working memory. Such effects, as with memory consolidation, require noradrenergic activation of the basolateral amygdala and interactions with other brain regions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Norepinephrine