Stress and anxiety can either enhance or impair memory, and the direction of the effect partially depends on the type of memory being affected. Behavioral or pharmacological stressors typically impair cognitive memory mediated by the hippocampus, but enhance stimulus-response habit memory mediated by the dorsolateral striatum. Evidence also indicates that the effect of emotion on different kinds of memory critically depends on a modulatory role of the basolateral amygdala (BLA). BLA modulation of multiple memory systems may be achieved through its glutamatergic projections to other brain regions, which may enhance stress hormone activity, modulate competition between memory systems, and alter synaptic plasticity. The neurobiology underlying the emotional modulation of multiple memory systems may be relevant to understand the impact of emotional arousal on the development and expression of human psychopathologies characterized by maladaptive habitual behaviors (e.g., drug addiction and relapse).
Part of the book: The Amygdala