This experimental medicine trial investigated the effects of atorvastatin on emotional processing, reward learning, verbal memory and inflammation in healthy volunteers.
Participants took atorvastatin for seven days and they were subsequently more likely to identify faces showing fearful emotions.
The study results reveal for the first time the early influence of atorvastatin on emotional recognition of fear - something that is linked to anxiety and depression, as well as the effects of commonly-used antidepressants on these conditions.
Dr Riccardo De Giorgi, study author and Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Fellow, University of Oxford, said:
'Our findings are important because they show for the first time that a very commonly prescribed medication, atorvastatin, can affect the way we perceive certain emotions. This is relevant to further studies investigating whether statins could be used for treating depressive and anxiety disorders.'
Read the full study, The effects of atorvastatin on emotional processing, reward learning, verbal memory and inflammation in healthy volunteers: An experimental medicine study, in the Journal of Psychopharmacology