Functional neuroanatomical correlates of the effects of stress on memory

J Trauma Stress. 1995 Oct;8(4):527-53. doi: 10.1007/BF02102888.


Recently there has been an increase in interest in the relationship between stress and memory. Brain regions which are involved in memory function also effect the stress response. Traumatic stress results in changes in these brain regions; alterations in these brain regions in turn may mediate symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Neural mechanisms which are relevant to the effects of stress on memory, such as fear conditioning, stress sensitization, and extinction, are reviewed in relation to their implications for PTSD. Special topics including neural mechanisms in dissociation, neurobiological approaches to the validity of childhood memories as they apply to controversies over the "False Memory Syndrome," and implications of the effects of stress on memory for psychotherapy, are also reviewed. The findings discussed in this paper are consistent with the formulation that stress-induced alterations in brain regions and systems involved in memory may underlie many of the symptoms of PTSD, as well as dissociative amnesia, seen in survivors of traumatic stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology
  • Fear / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Psychotherapy
  • Repression, Psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology