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Effects of emotion and stress on different memory stages

English title Effects of emotion and stress on different memory stages
Applicant Rimmele Ulrike
Number 137126
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Dépt des Neurosciences Fondamentales Faculté de Médecine Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.07.2012 - 30.11.2015
Approved amount 634'007.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Neurophysiology and Brain Research

Keywords (1)

memory

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

Were where you when you heard about the terrorist attack on the world trade center? Can you remember receiving your high school diploma, your first kiss? Very likely you are able to remember these emotional events. Emotions have a profound impact on what we learn and keep in mind. Why is this the case? What are the mechanisms that lead to better memory for emotional compared to neutral events? And how may these emotional memories change over time?

The aim of my research is to characterize and understand the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the effects of emotion on various stages of memory, i.e. memory encoding, memory storage, memory retrieval and additional storage processes after retrieval. To address the question how emotion influences these memory stages, I take a synergistic approach trying to integrate the neurobiological level with the cognitive level using a combination of various methods. I am using functional imaging, for example, in order to scrutinize the brain mechanisms during periods of rest following an emotional event that may be linked to better memory storage for emotional events. Or, in previous studies, I was able to show that decreasing or increasing stress hormone levels with a specific medication leads to an impairment in memory retrieval that was most profound for emotional events. In the present Ambizione projects I will examine the brain mechanisms that are linked to the action of various stress hormone levels on memory retrieval. I am also interested in how memories for emotional events may change over time and I am planning to develop behavioral paradigms that test the notion of memory reconsolidation for emotional events, i.e. test whether emotional memories can be changed over time.

Better knowledge of the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of emotion and memory interactions will help to understand essential features of memory mechanisms that are relevant to teaching and education methods, and may also provide new insights into the nature of some major psychological disorders, particularly anxiety disorders and post traumatic stress disorder.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Emotional memory can be persistently weakened by suppressing cortisol during retrieval.
Rimmele Ulrike, Besedovsky Luciana, Lange Tanja, Born Jan (2015), Emotional memory can be persistently weakened by suppressing cortisol during retrieval., in Neurobiology of learning and memory, 119(x), 1102-107.
Sleep, Sleep Alterations, Stress-Combined Effects on Memory?
Rimmele U & Tambini A (2015), Sleep, Sleep Alterations, Stress-Combined Effects on Memory?, in Sleep, 1835-1836.
Blocking mineralocorticoid receptors impairs, blocking glucocorticoid receptors enhances memory retrieval in humans.
Rimmele Ulrike, Besedovsky Luciana, Lange Tanja, Born Jan (2013), Blocking mineralocorticoid receptors impairs, blocking glucocorticoid receptors enhances memory retrieval in humans., in Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(5), 884-94.
Memory for time and place contributes to enhanced confidence in memories for emotional events.
Rimmele Ulrike, Davachi Lila, Phelps Elizabeth A (2012), Memory for time and place contributes to enhanced confidence in memories for emotional events., in Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 12(4), 834-46.
Beta-adrenergic blockade at memory encoding, but not retrieval, decreases the subjective sense of recollection
Rimmele Ulrike, Lackovic Sandra, Tobe Russ, Leventhal Bennett, Phelps Elizabeth, Beta-adrenergic blockade at memory encoding, but not retrieval, decreases the subjective sense of recollection, in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Emotional brain-states carry-over and enhance future memory formation
Tambini Arielle, Rimmele Ulrike, Phelps Elizabeth, Davachi Lila, Emotional brain-states carry-over and enhance future memory formation, in Nature Neuroscience.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of Tuebingen Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
New York University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
EPFL Brain Mind Symposium: "Mechanisms of Memory Consolidation, Reconsolidation and Extinction - and their Relevance to Psychiatry Poster Episodic positive and negative memories can be updated with neutral information when reactivated in humans 21.12.2015 Lausanne, Switzerland Montagrin Alison; Rimmele Ulrike;
EPFL Brain Mind Symposium: "Mechanisms of Memory Consolidation, Reconsolidation and Extinction - and their Relevance to Psychiatry Poster Cortisol Suppression During Sleep Enhances Memory Re-consolidation in Humans 21.12.2015 Lausanne, Switzerland Antypa Despina; Rimmele Ulrike;
Swiss Society for Psychology Individual talk Reactivation triggers integration of neutral information into emotional memories 09.09.2015 Genf, Switzerland Montagrin Alison; Rimmele Ulrike;
14th SSP/SGP Conference Poster Suppress to Forget, Express to Remember: Response-focused Emotion Regulation Strategies Differentially Affect Memory 08.09.2015 Genf, Switzerland Antypa Despina; Rimmele Ulrike;
Swiss Memory Workshop Poster Episodic positive and negative memories can be updated with neutral information when reactivated 24.08.2015 Spiez, Switzerland Rimmele Ulrike; Montagrin Alison;
Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention Poster Episodic positive and negative memories can be updated with neutral information when reactivated 22.05.2015 New York, United States of America Rimmele Ulrike; Montagrin Alison;
Swiss Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting 2015 Poster Increasing emotion during learning enhances, suppressing emotion decreases the subjective sense of recollection 24.01.2015 Fribourg, Switzerland Antypa Despina; Rimmele Ulrike;
Alpine Brain Imaging Meeting 2015 Poster Episodic positive and negative memories can be updated with a subtle reminder 12.01.2015 Champéry, Switzerland Rimmele Ulrike; Montagrin Alison;
Alpine Brain Imaging Meeting 2015 Poster Suppressing, but not Enhancing Emotion during Encoding Affects the Subjective Sense of Remembering 12.01.2015 Champéry, Switzerland Antypa Despina; Rimmele Ulrike;
Donders Summer School: Stress & Cognition: From basic mechanisms to psychopathology, Nijemegen, Netherlands Poster Effects of Emotion Suppression on Memory Formation 13.08.2014 Nijmegen, Netherlands Rimmele Ulrike; Antypa Despina;
Memory and Consciousness - Summerschool 2014 Talk given at a conference Cortisol synthesis suppression alters emotional and neutral memories 30.07.2014 Tuebingen, Germany Rimmele Ulrike;
FENS Forum 2014 Poster Propranolol reduces the subjective sense of remembering 05.07.2014 Milan, Italy Rimmele Ulrike;
Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting Poster Modulation of resting correlations following encoding of neutral and emotional complex scenes 14.04.2013 San Fransisco, United States of America Rimmele Ulrike;
Alpine Brain Imaging Meeting 2013 Poster Emotional modulation of resting state functional connectivity and its relation to memory 06.01.2013 Champery, Switzerland, Switzerland Rimmele Ulrike;
The Neurobiology of Emotion Poster Memory formation of neutral events is changed in the aftermath of emotional events - an fMRI study 11.11.2012 Stresa, Italy Rimmele Ulrike;
New York 2012 ISPNE Conference Talk given at a conference Role of cortisol, sleep, and glucocorticoid receptors in memory consolidation and retrieval. 11.09.2012 New York, USA, United States of America Rimmele Ulrike;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Study Week Swiss Youth in Science Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 17.03.2014 Geneva, Switzerland Rimmele Ulrike;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Dank Emotionen erinnern wir uns besser Zeitung Südostschweiz German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions Le stress sous la loupe Western Switzerland 2014

Awards

Title Year
Fellowship to the Summer Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience 2012

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
160861 Effects of emotion and stress on different memory stages 01.12.2015 Ambizione

Abstract

SummaryThe recent scientific literature implicates that emotion influences various stages of memory, i.e. encoding, consolidation, retrieval, and reconsolidation. Among other factors, stress hormones, i.e. glucocorticoids, as well as catecholamines released upon an emotionally arousing experience, are known to contribute to emotion’s effects on all stages of memory formation. As outlined in detail in my research plan, the major aim of my project is to characterize the behavioral and neurobiological processes that underlie the effects of emotion and stress on different stages of memory. To study this topic, I will continue human experimentation combining behavioral studies, pharmacological manipulations, and neuroimaging techniques. Using these various approaches, I aim at creating a research framework that integrates the cognitive and affective level with their underlying neurobiological mechanisms.In my recent postdoc research supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (PBZH1-118850), I established a consistent emotional memory enhancement in humans in a paradigm where encoding of emotional and neutral memories is interspersed with rest periods. Previously it has been found that emotional memories become stronger over time compared to neutral memories, suggesting a different storage process for emotional vs. neutral memories. One way to examine the memory consolidation process per se is to assess potential storage mechanisms during periods when the brain is “off-line“, i.e. during rest or sleep. Now that I have established the behavioral effect of stronger emotional memories in a paradigm with rest, the aim of the proposed study 1 is to characterize the neural substrates underlying the differential consolidation processes for emotional vs. neutral memories. This question is especially important, not only because this has major implications for psychopathology disorders, but also because memory research tends to focus on the neural processes involved in the encoding and retrieval phase, whereas the neural correlates of memory consolidation are less well characterized. Therefore, to identify the neural correlates of emotional memory consolidation, I will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during rest periods following the encoding of emotional or neutral material. After learning about behavioral effects and their underlying neural mechanisms using correlational techniques such as neuroimaging, I also plan to probe the neurohormonal mechanisms underlying emotional memory using causal manipulations such as pharmacology. The aim of the proposed study 2 is to target the neural correlates of emotional memory retrieval under the influence of a mineralocorticoid receptor blocker using a combined approach of a pharmacological manipulation and neuroimaging. This approach constitutes a direct extension of my previous pharmacological work and will allow me to elucidate the neural correlates of the emotional memory retrieval impairment that I observed under blockade of mineralocorticoid receptors in humans in a previous study.Recent studies suggest that memory processes are not completed after an initial encoding, storage and retrieval process. Rather it has been hypothesized that upon retrieval memories become labile again and then undergo an additional storage process, i.e. memory reconsolidation. While stress has been shown to affect memory reconsolidation of fear and appetitive memories in animals, it has not yet been shown whether memory reconsolidation of these kinds of memories is likewise affected by stress in humans. Using a stress test after the reactivation of fear or appetitive memories, the aim of study 3 is to investigate whether stress does affect emotional memory reconsolidation. As an extension of this paradigm I would like to investigate whether not only stress, but also increased cortisol levels manipulated through pharmacological administration, can affect emotional memory reconsolidation. The results should indicate the potential therapeutic value of stress and cortisol as targets for the treatment of anxiety disorders.Taken together, the studies envisioned in this research plan will add to a better understanding of how emotion and stress interact and influence multiple memory stages. This in turn will have implications for better understanding the nature of psychological disorders, particularly anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. The findings may eventually help to tailor effective treatments for these psychological disorders, but also more generally yield new insights into the mechanisms of learning and memory, and their potential relevance for teaching and education methods.In addition I expect to enhance my investigations through close collaborations with faculty members in the Psychology Department at the University of Geneva, plus those in the Centers for Neuroscience and Affective Sciences, and more generally in the Lemanic areas. One strong incentive for me to apply for this Ambizione Grant is to work in a research environment that offers a strong expertise in emotion, cognition and learning, as well as in-depth methodological knowledge in pharmacology and functional magnetic resonance imaging. I believe that working in this environment will stimulate and enhance the overall originality of my research, lead to mutually beneficial collaborations, as well as qualify myself for a professorship at a Psychology or Neuroscience Department in the field of affective neuroscience, preferably in Switzerland.
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