Memory Consolidation and Reconsolidation: Cortisone after trauma could prevent PTSD

April 6, 2012 · Posted in Potential Treatments 

brainMemories are created in a series of phases in which different neurobiological mechanisms are required.  In order for short-term memories to be placed in long-term storage, new protein synthesis is required. If protein synthesis is inhibited during a window about 2-4 hours after the short-term memory was encoded, consolidation into long-term memory does not occur.

In addition to the initial phase of memory consolidation, a second phase of memory reconsolidation is now recognized. During this phase, memory is again alterable.

The alterability of memories has implications for some types of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in which emotional memories repeatedly intrude into consciousness. Pharmacological intervention during the period of memory reconsolidation may be able to reduce the impact of traumatic memories.

One example of an attempt to alter memory consolidation or reconsolidation after trauma has been reported by researcher Ariel Shalev and colleagues. These researchers found that administration of a high dose of intravenous cortisone (100 to 240mg) immediately following an extreme trauma was able to decrease the incidence of PTSD. One month after a traumatic event, the incidence of PTSD was 60% in those who received placebo, compared to only 16% in those who received the intravenous cortisone.



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