Propranolol selectively blocks the enhanced parietal old/new effect during long-term recollection of unpleasant pictures: a high density ERP study.Neuroimage. 2010 Feb 01; 49(3):2800-6.N
Evidence from both animal and human research suggests that the formation of emotional memories is triggered by the beta-adrenergic system. To confirm whether modulation of central beta-adrenergic transmission is specifically involved in the neural signature of memory performance, the pre-encoding effect of propranolol (80 mg) on event-related potentials (ERPs) was measured in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group study in 46 male healthy subjects using high density EEG and source imaging analysis during encoding and retrieval (after 1 week) of IAPS pictures of unpleasant, neutral and pleasant contents; for recognition 90 old pictures were randomly mixed with 90 new pictures. During retrieval correctly remembered old pictures elicited a significantly larger positive voltage change over the centro-parietal cortex than new pictures. Propranolol significantly reduced this old/new difference of the mean ERP amplitudes (500-800 ms) for unpleasant but not for neutral and pleasant memories. This effect correlated with salivary alpha-amylase activity, a surrogate for central adrenergic stimulation. In conclusion, propranolol selectively blocked the neural signature of unpleasant memories by mechanisms in which the parietal cortex seems to be specifically involved.