Stress facilitates consolidation of verbal memory for a film but does not affect retrieval

Victoria E. Beckner*, David M. Tucker, Yvon Delville, David C. Mohr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The effect of psychosocial stress on distinct memory processes was investigated in 157 college students using a brief film, which enabled comparison of verbal and visual memory by using a single complex stimulus. Participants were stressed either following stimuli presentation (consolidation) or before testing 48 hr later (retrieval) and were compared with no-stress controls. Salivary cortisol was measured before and 20 min after stress. The consolidation group significantly outperformed controls on total and verbal film scores. Stress did not impair retrieval relative to controls. Exploratory analyses revealed a significant correlation between cortisol and verbal scores across all groups (r =.18). Results provide the first evidence of a facilitative effect of a stressor on verbal memory, but failed to replicate retrieval findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-527
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Consolidation
  • Cortisol
  • Memory
  • Retrieval
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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