A Psychophysiologic Study of Weakening Traumatic Combat Memories with Post-Reactivation Propranolol
Final rept. 1 Jun 2007-31 May 2011
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL BOSTON
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Introduction The eta-adrenergic blocker propranolol has been shown to reduce reconsolidation of aversive memories in rodents. Administration of propranolol following reactivation of traumatic memories in male and female civilians with PTSD has been shown to reduce physiological responses during subsequent mental imagery the traumatic event. Aims The present study aimed to examine whether the fear-weakening effect of propranolol may be due to non-specific actions of the drug. Here we investigated the effect of propranolol given with or without the reactivation otraumatic combat memories. Methods Twenty-three male subjects with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder received propranolol witn12 or without n11 experimentally induced, concomitant traumatic memory retrieval reactivation, randomized and double-blind. A week later, they engaged in script-driven mental imagery of their traumatic combevent while physiological responses were recorded. Results The physiological responses during script-driven imagery of both the reactivation propranolol group and the non-reactivation propranolol group were below the normative cutoffs for PTSD. There were no significant between-group differences in physiological responses or in change in self-reported PTSD symptoms. Discussion The lack of significant group differences fails to support the proposition that the putative fear-weakening effect of propranolol is mediated by a reconsolidation mechanism.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medicine and Medical Research
- Stress Physiology