Deletion variant in the ADRA2B gene increases coupling between emotional responses at encoding and later retrieval of emotional memories

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014 Jul;112:222-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.10.008. Epub 2013 Oct 19.


A deletion variant of the ADRA2B gene that codes for the α2b adrenoceptor has been linked to greater susceptibility to traumatic memory as well as attentional biases in perceptual encoding of negatively valenced stimuli. The goal of the present study was to examine whether emotional enhancements of memory associated with the ADRA2B deletion variant were predicted by encoding, as indexed by the subjectively perceived emotional salience (i.e., arousal) of events at the time of encoding. Genotyping was performed on 186 healthy young adults who rated positive, negative, and neutral scenes for level of emotional arousal and subsequently performed a surprise recognition memory task 1 week later. Experience of childhood trauma was also measured, as well as additional genetic variations associated with emotional biases and episodic memory. Results showed that subjective arousal was linked to memory accuracy and confidence for ADRA2B deletion carriers but not for non-carriers. Our results suggest that carrying the ADRA2B deletion variant enhances the relationship between arousal at encoding and subsequent memory for moderately arousing events.

Keywords: ADRA2B; Affective bias; Emotion; Genetic variation; Memory; Norepinephrine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2 / genetics*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • ADRA2B protein, human
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2