Cortisol-Blocking Drug Can Modify Negative Memories in Brain

CortisolA team of researchers from the University of Montreal, a drug called metyrapone has the ability to reduce the brain’s ability to associate negative emotions with certain, bad memories a person stores in their brain. This discovery shakes the foundations of the widely-held belief that once a memory is stored in the brain that it can’t be modified.

While scientists aren’t still 100% sure exactly how the drug works, it does provide certain implications for helping people deal with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), said the information published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The drug blocks cortisol, a stress hormone which is also responsible for the storage and retrieval of memories, and this new discovery has made scientists wonder if playing around with the levels of this hormone would change how people feel when they recall painful past events in their lives.

In the study, groups of men were given placebos, single doses, and double doses of the drug. There wasn’t a difference among those men who took the placebos and the single dose, but those who took double doses of the medicines recalled past stressful events in a less emotional way than the others. Additionally, the effects of the drug remained in the body for four days.