A role for central nervous growth hormone-releasing hormone signaling in the consolidation of declarative memories

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Abstract

Contributions of somatotropic hormonal activity to memory functions in humans, which are suggested by clinical observations, have not been systematically examined. With previous experiments precluding a direct effect of systemic growth hormone (GH) on acute memory formation, we assessed the role of central nervous somatotropic signaling in declarative memory consolidation. We examined the effect of intranasally administered growth hormone releasing-hormone (GHRH; 600 μg) that has direct access to the brain and suppresses endogenous GHRH via an ultra-short negative feedback loop. Twelve healthy young men learned word-pair associates at 2030 h and were administered GHRH and placebo, respectively, at 2100 h. Retrieval was tested after 11 hours of wakefulness. Compared to placebo, intranasal GHRH blunted GH release within 3 hours after substance administration and reduced the number of correctly recalled word-pairs by ~12% (both P<0.05). The impairment of declarative memory consolidation was directly correlated to diminished GH concentrations (P<0.05). Procedural memory consolidation as examined by the parallel assessment of finger sequence tapping performance was not affected by GHRH administration. Our findings indicate that intranasal GHRH, by counteracting endogenous GHRH release, impairs hippocampal memory processing. They provide first evidence for a critical contribution of central nervous somatotropic activity to hippocampus-dependent memory consolidation. © 2011 Hallschmid et al.

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Hallschmid, M., Wilhelm, I., Michel, C., Perras, B., & Born, J. (2011). A role for central nervous growth hormone-releasing hormone signaling in the consolidation of declarative memories. PLoS ONE, 6(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023435

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