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Keywords:

  • adrenergic system;
  • emotional memory;
  • heart rate;
  • intrusive recollection;
  • PTSD

Abstract  Considerable evidence suggests that the adrenergic system plays an important role in the biological mechanism of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the present pilot study the association between heart rate (HR) recorded prior to slide viewing and long-term emotional memory was compared between human subjects with a past history of PTSD (n = 6) and healthy women controls (n = 12). The correlation between HR during the anticipatory period and emotional memory was significant for the PTSD group (r = 0.93, P < 0.001) but not for the control group (r = 0.21, NS). The adrenergic reaction appears to be associated with emotional memory, which may be strengthened in subjects with a past history of PTSD.