The effects of β-adrenergic blockade on the degrading effects of eye movements on negative, autobiographical memories

Description

Background: 
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During EMDR, patients make horizontal eye movements (EM) while simultaneously recalling a traumatic memory, which renders the memory less vivid and emotional when it is later recalled again. Recalling highly emotional autobiographical memories enhances noradrenergic (NA) neurotransmission. NA strengthens memory (re)consolidation. However, memories become less vivid after recall+EM. Therefore NA might either play no significant role or serve to strengthen memories that are degraded by EM. The present study was designed to test the latter hypothesis. We predicted that blocking NA would abolish the memory degrading effects of EM.

Methods: 
Fifty-six healthy participants selected three negative autobiographical memories. One was then recalled while making EM, one was recalled without EM, and one was not recalled. Vividness and emotionality of the memories, and heart rate and skin conductance level during memory retrieval were measured before, directly after, and 24h after the EM task. Before the task, participants received a placebo or the noradrenergic β-receptor blocker propranolol (40 mg).

Results:
There were no effects of EM on memory emotionality or psychophysiological measures in the propranolol and placebo groups. However, in the placebo group, but not the propranolol group, memory vividness significantly decreased from pretest to posttest and follow-up after recall+EM relative to the control conditions.

Conclusion:
Blocking NA abolished the effects of EM on the vividness of emotional memories, indicating that NA is crucial for EMDR effectiveness and possibly strengthens the reconsolidation of the degraded memory.

Format

Journal

Language

English

Author(s)

Marianne Littel
J. Leon Kenemans
Johanna M.P. Baas
H. N. Alexander Logemann
Nellie Rijken
Malou Remijn
Rutger J. Hassink
Iris M. Engelhard
Marcel. A. van den Hout

Original Work Citation

Littel, M., Kenemans, J. L., Baas, J. M. P., Logemann, H. N. A., Rijken, N., Remijn, M., Hassink, R. J., Engelhard, I. M., & van den Hout, M. A. (2017, October). The effects of β-adrenergic blockade on the degrading effects of eye movements on negative, autobiographical memories. Biological Psychiatry,  82( 8), 587–593. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.03.012

Collection

Citation

“The effects of β-adrenergic blockade on the degrading effects of eye movements on negative, autobiographical memories,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 24, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/24283.

Output Formats