Neural plasticity and emotional memory

Robert M. Post, S. R.B. Weiss, H. Li, M. A. Smith, L. X. Zhang, G. Xing, E. A. Osuch, U. D. Mccann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Posttraumatic stress disorder is the pathological replay of emotional memory formed in response to painful, life-threatening, or horrifying events. In contrast, depression is often precipitated by more social context-related stressors. New data suggest that different types of life experiences can differentially impact biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, and behavior at the level of changes in gene expression. Repeated separation of neonatal rat pups from their mother results in many long-lasting alterations in biology and behavior paralleling that in depression, including hypercortisolism. The role of the amygdala in modulating emotional memory is highlighted, as well as some of its unique properties such as metaplasticity (i.e., the differential direction of long-term adaptation, either potentiation or depression) in response to the same input as a function of the prior history of stimulation. The implications of these emerging data on the physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying emotional memory emphasize the particular importance of prevention and early intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-855
Number of pages27
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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