The downside of strong emotional memories : how human memory-related genes influence the risk for posttraumatic stress disorder - A selective review

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Memo TV - Epigenetic, neural and cognitive memories of traumatic stress and violence
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Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2014, 112, pp. 75-86. ISSN 1074-7427. eISSN 1095-9564. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.08.015
Zusammenfassung

A good memory for emotionally arousing experiences may be intrinsically adaptive, as it helps the organisms to predict safety and danger and to choose appropriate responses to prevent potential harm. However, under conditions of repeated exposure to traumatic stressors, strong emotional memories of these experiences can lead to the development of trauma-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This syndrome is characterized by distressing intrusive memories that can be so intense that the survivor is unable to discriminate past from present experiences.

This selective review on the role of memory-related genes in PTSD etiology is divided in three sections. First, we summarize studies indicating that the likelihood to develop PTSD depends on the cumulative exposure to traumatic stressors and on individual predisposing risk factors, including a substantial genetic contribution to PTSD risk. Second, we focus on memory processes supposed to be involved in PTSD etiology and present evidence for PTSD-associated alterations in both implicit (fear conditioning, fear extinction) and explicit memory for emotional material. This is supplemented by a brief description of structural and functional alterations in memory-relevant brain regions in PTSD. Finally, we summarize a selection of studies indicating that genetic variations found to be associated with enhanced fear conditioning, reduced fear extinction or better episodic memory in human experimental studies can have clinical implications in the case of trauma exposure and influence the risk of PTSD development. Here, we focus on genes involved in noradrenergic (ADRA2B), serotonergic (SLC6A4), and dopaminergic signaling (COMT) as well as in the molecular cascades of memory formation (PRKCA and WWC1). This is supplemented by initial evidence that such memory-related genes might also influence the response rates of exposure-based psychotherapy or pharmacological treatment of PTSD, which underscores the relevance of basic memory research for disorders of altered memory functioning such as PTSD.

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Fachgebiet (DDC)
150 Psychologie
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Posttraumatic stress disorder; Genetics; Memory; Risk factor; Traumatic stress
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ISO 690WILKER, Sarah, Thomas ELBERT, Iris-Tatjana KOLASSA, 2014. The downside of strong emotional memories : how human memory-related genes influence the risk for posttraumatic stress disorder - A selective review. In: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2014, 112, pp. 75-86. ISSN 1074-7427. eISSN 1095-9564. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.08.015
BibTex
@article{Wilker2014downs-29370,
  year={2014},
  doi={10.1016/j.nlm.2013.08.015},
  title={The downside of strong emotional memories : how human memory-related genes influence the risk for posttraumatic stress disorder - A selective review},
  url={http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1074742713001743},
  volume={112},
  issn={1074-7427},
  journal={Neurobiology of Learning and Memory},
  pages={75--86},
  author={Wilker, Sarah and Elbert, Thomas and Kolassa, Iris-Tatjana}
}
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