Skip to main content Accessibility help

Interactions of noradrenaline and cortisol and the induction of indelible memories

  • René Hurlemann (a1) (a2), Wolfgang Maier (a1) (a3) and Dirk Scheele (a1) (a2)


The glutamate amplifies noradrenergic effects (GANE) model emphasizes the role of focal glutamate–noradrenaline interactions in creating functional hotspots for prioritized processing of salient stimuli. Here, we briefly outline current evidence that synergistic action of noradrenaline and cortisol enables emotional stimuli to gain privileged access to amygdala–hippocampus circuits, eventually resulting in the formation of indelible memories and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).



Hide All
Bryant, R. A., McGrath, C. & Felmingham, K. L. (2013) The roles of noradrenergic and glucocorticoid activation in the development of intrusive memories. PLoS ONE 8(4):e62675. Available at:
Buchanan, T. W. & Lovallo, W. R. (2001) Enhanced memory for emotional material following stress-level cortisol treatment in humans. Psychoneuroendocrinology 26(3):307–17. Available at:
de Kloet, E. R., Joels, M. & Holsboer, F. (2005) Stress and the brain: From adaptation to disease. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6(6):463–75. Available at:
de Quervain, D. J., Roozendaal, B., Nitsch, R. M., McGaugh, J. L. & Hock, C. (2000) Acute cortisone administration impairs retrieval of long-term declarative memory in humans. Nature Neuroscience 3(4):313–14. Available at:
Ehrlich, I., Humeau, Y., Grenier, F., Ciocchi, S., Herry, C. & Luthi, A. (2009) Amygdala inhibitory circuits and the control of fear memory. Neuron 62(6):757–71. Available at:
Goossens, L., Kukolja, J., Onur, O. A., Fink, G. R., Maier, W., Griez, E., Schruers, K. & Hurlemann, R. (2009) Selective processing of social stimuli in the superficial amygdala. Human Brain Mapping 30(10):3332–38. Available at:
Hurlemann, R. (2006) Noradrenergic control of emotion-induced amnesia and hypermnesia. Reviews in the Neurosciences 17(5):525–32. Available at:
Hurlemann, R. (2008) Noradrenergic–glucocorticoid mechanisms in emotion-induced amnesia: From adaptation to disease. Psychopharmacology 197(1):1323. Available at:
Hurlemann, R., Hawellek, B., Matusch, A., Kolsch, H., Wollersen, H., Madea, B., Vogeley, K., Maier, W. & Dolan, R. J. (2005) Noradrenergic modulation of emotion-induced forgetting and remembering. Journal of Neuroscience 25(27):6343–49. Available at:
Hurlemann, R., Matusch, A., Hawellek, B., Klingmuller, D., Kolsch, H., Maier, W. & Dolan, R. J. (2007a) Emotion-induced retrograde amnesia varies as a function of noradrenergic–glucocorticoid activity. Psychopharmacology 194(2):261–69. Available at:
Hurlemann, R., Rehme, A. K., Diessel, M., Kukolja, J., Maier, W., Walter, H. & Cohen, M. X. (2008) Segregating intra-amygdalar responses to dynamic facial emotion with cytoarchitectonic maximum probability maps.1 Journal of Neuroscience Methods 172(1):1320. Available at:
Hurlemann, R., Wagner, M., Hawellek, B., Reich, H., Pieperhoff, P., Amunts, K., Oros-Peusquens, A. M., Shah, N. J., Maier, W. & Dolan, R. J. (2007b) Amygdala control of emotion-induced forgetting and remembering. Neuropsychologia 45(5):877–84. Available at:
Hurlemann, R., Walter, H., Rehme, A. K., Kukolja, J., Santoro, S. C., Schmidt, C., Schnell, K., Musshoff, F., Keysers, C., Maier, W., Kendrick, K. M. & Onur, O. A. (2010) Human amygdala reactivity is diminished by the beta-noradrenergic antagonist propranolol. Psychological Medicine 40(11):1839–48. Available at:
Karst, H., Berger, S., Turiault, M., Tronche, F., Schütz, G. & Joëls, M. (2005) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102(52):19204–207. Available at:
Kukolja, J., Klingmuller, D., Maier, W., Fink, G. R. & Hurlemann, R. (2011) Noradrenergic–glucocorticoid modulation of emotional memory encoding in the human hippocampus. Psychological Medicine 41(10):2167–76. Available at:
Kukolja, J., Schlapfer, T. E., Keysers, C., Klingmuller, D., Maier, W., Fink, G. R. & Hurlemann, R. (2008) Modeling a negative response bias in the human amygdala by noradrenergic–glucocorticoid interactions. Journal of Neuroscience 28(48):12868–76. Available at:
McEwen, B. S., Bowles, N. P., Gray, J. D., Hill, M. N., Hunter, R. G., Karatsoreos, I. N. & Nasca, C. (2015) Mechanisms of stress in the brain. Nature Neuroscience 18(10):1353–63. Available at:
Merz, C. J., Tabbert, K., Schweckendiek, J., Klucken, T., Vaitl, D., Stark, R. & Wolf, O. T. (2010) Investigating the impact of sex and cortisol on implicit fear conditioning with fMRI. Psychoneuroendocrinology 35(1):3346. Available at:
Mihov, Y., Mayer, S., Musshoff, F., Maier, W., Kendrick, K. M. & Hurlemann, R. (2010) Facilitation of learning by social–emotional feedback in humans is beta-noradrenergic-dependent. Neuropsychologia 48(10):3168–72. Available at:
Montoya, E. R., Bos, P. A., Terburg, D., Rosenberger, L. A. & van Honk, J. (2014) Cortisol administration induces global down-regulation of the brain's reward circuitry. Psychoneuroendocrinology 47:3142. Available at:
Nicholson, E. L., Bryant, R. A. & Felmingham, K. L. (2014) Interaction of noradrenaline and cortisol predicts negative intrusive memories in posttraumatic stress disorder. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 112:204–11. Available at:
Onur, O. A., Walter, H., Schlaepfer, T. E., Rehme, A. K., Schmidt, C., Keysers, C., Maier, W. & Hurlemann, R. (2009) Noradrenergic enhancement of amygdala responses to fear. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 4(2):119–26. Available at:
Patin, A. & Hurlemann, R. (2011) Modulating amygdala responses to emotion: Evidence from pharmacological fMRI. Neuropsychologia 49(4):706–17. Available at:
Strange, B. A., Hurlemann, R. & Dolan, R. J. (2003) An emotion-induced retrograde amnesia in humans is amygdala- and beta-adrenergic-dependent. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 100(23):13626–31. Available at:
van Stegeren, A. H., Roozendaal, B., Kindt, M., Wolf, O. T. & Joels, M. (2010) Interacting noradrenergic and corticosteroid systems shift human brain activation patterns during encoding. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 93(1):5665. Available at:
Vogel, S., Klumpers, F., Krugers, H. J., Fang, Z., Oplaat, K. T., Oitzl, M. S., Joels, M. & Fernandez, G. (2015b) Blocking the mineralocorticoid receptor in humans prevents the stress-induced enhancement of centromedial amygdala connectivity with the dorsal striatum. Neuropsychopharmacology 40(4):947–56. Available at:


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed