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Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Feb;17(2):60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Jan 2.

Stress and multiple memory systems: from 'thinking' to 'doing'.

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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Cognitive Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.


Although it has been known for decades that stress influences memory performance, it was only recently shown that stress may alter the contribution of multiple, anatomically and functionally distinct memory systems to behavior. Here, we review recent animal and human studies demonstrating that stress promotes a shift from flexible 'cognitive' to rather rigid 'habit' memory systems and discuss, based on recent neuroimaging data in humans, the underlying brain mechanisms. We argue that, despite being generally adaptive, this stress-induced shift towards 'habit' memory may, in vulnerable individuals, be a risk factor for psychopathology.

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