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<p>People recall important information and maintain this ability despite memory impairment by aging, distraction or rushing. Early-life stress (ELS) is associated with atypical development of three brain regions likely involved in memory: the hippocampus (Youssef, 2019), amygdala (Tottenham, 2010) and nucleus accumbens (Go, 2013). Assuming exposure to ELS amplifies the effects of acute stress (Kuhlman, 2018), we predict high ELS will impair selectivity for remembering important information. Of 93 undergraduates at the University of California, Los Angeles, half underwent acute stress induction via the Trier Social Stress Test, in which participants delivered a speech and performed mental arithmetic for an audience. Participants studied lists of words with arbitrary point values assigned to them. Evidence of impaired selectivity for remembering important information during acute stress was shown among individuals who had ELS. This impairment may reflect a sensitization to acute stress and the perturbation of the neural machinery of reward and value calculations among individuals exposed to ELS. Future work using fMRI will assess the neural mechanisms responsible for these effects.</p>
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