Stress and Sleep Interact to Enhance Emotional Memory Consolidation
Separate lines of research demonstrate that elevated stress hormones (such as cortisol and norepinephrine) can selectively enhance the consolidation of negative emotional memories, as can the occurrence of sleep after learning. The first part of my talk will examine the separate roles that stress and sleep play in the formation of our emotional memories. In the second part of the talk, I will discuss new evidence, from behavioral, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging studies, suggesting that stress and arousal interact with sleep to augment memory consolidation, particularly for emotionally negative information. I will conclude the talk by presenting a model arguing that stress hormones help ‘tag’ emotional information as important to remember at the time of encoding, thus enabling subsequent, sleep-based plasticity processes to optimally consolidate emotional information in a selective manner.