Stress hormones impair memory
High serum concentrations of cortisol may be responsible for stress induced memory loss, a team of researchers from Zurich has found. They compared the effects of oral cortisol and placebo in a randomised trial and found that the cortisol group did worse in tests of recall than controls. The research was prompted by animal research suggesting that learning was enhanced in animals given glucocorticoids.
In this study, the 46 subjects were randomised to take either 25 mg cortisone (which produced circulating cortisol concentrations equivalent to natural concentrations of cortisol at times of stress) or a placebo. They were all asked to memorise 60 nouns, each of which were presented on a computer screen for four seconds. Both groups were then tested for free recall (write down all the words you remember) and recognition (how many of the following words were on the list). The subjects were also tested for delayed