Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Qi Song (Donders series 505)

7 June 2021

Promotor: prof. dr. B. Roozendaal
Co-promotor: dr. M.J.A.G. Henckens

Noradrenergic effects on the neural mechanisms underlying memory detailedness

Stressful and emotional experiences have strong effect on many aspects of learning and memory, ranging from learning to storage and retrieval of information. Previous studies have extensively investigated how stress and emotional arousal enhance the memories. A better memory for emotional events is an adaptive phenomenon that helps to remember especially important events. However, to what extent stress and emotion also influence the reliability of such memories, i.e. their accuracy and detailedness, has been much less researched. Behavioral studies in humans have shown that emotional memories can be different in quality, but the findings are conflicting. Some studies showed that emotion improves memory accuracy, while other studies show that emotional memories are remembered in a more generalized, general way, and often contain misinformation. Obviously, a less reliable memory has much less adaptive value. It is therefore important to understand the effects of stress and emotional arousal on the accuracy and detailedness of memory, and how these effects are brought around in the brain. In this thesis I thus investigated whether the neurotransmitter norepinephrine influences the detailedness of memory and which brain processes play a role in this using behavioral experiments in laboratory animals.