OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine (i) the influence of cortisol on both prospective and retrospective memory performance and (ii) the role of emotional valence in both types of memory.
METHODS: Thirty-four male students participated in a memory task, which measured both prospective and retrospective memory performance. Baseline salivary cortisol levels were assessed.
RESULTS: Spearman's rank order correlation analysis showed a significant positive correlation between salivary cortisol levels and retrospective memory performance for neutral words. Cortisol levels were not significantly correlated with prospective memory performance for either negative nor neutral words.
CONCLUSIONS: The present results indicate chronic cortisol levels are positively associated with retrospective memory at relatively low concentration ranges, but not prospective memory, in healthy young men. Implications for evaluating the beneficial effects of low-dose cortisol treatment on posttraumatic stress disorder is discussed.