Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The hippocampus (HC) is necessary for learning and memory, but it also plays a role in other behaviors such as those related to stress and anxiety. In support of the latter idea, we show here that bilateral HC damage abolishes the cortisol response to psychosocial stress. We collected salivary cortisol, heart rate, and affective responses to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) from 7 participants with bilateral HC lesions, 12 participants with damage outside the HC, and 28 healthy normal comparison participants matched to the HC participants on age and sex. HC participants showed elevated pre-stress cortisol, but no cortisol response to the TSST. Heart rate and affective responses in the HC group were similar to those of the comparison groups. Participants with brain damage outside the HC showed stress responses that were comparable to those of the healthy comparison group. These findings support the idea that the functions of the human HC extend beyond learning and memory, and suggest that the HC is necessary for producing the cortisol response to psychosocial stress.
PMCID: PMC2692817 [Available on 2010/6/1]