Reconsolidation: Maintaining memory relevance

School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.
Trends in Neurosciences (Impact Factor: 13.56). 08/2009; 32(8):413-20. DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2009.05.002
Source: PubMed


The retrieval of a memory places it into a plastic state, the result of which is that the memory can be disrupted or even enhanced by experimental treatment. This phenomenon has been conceptualised within a framework of memories being reactivated and then reconsolidated in repeated rounds of cellular processing. The reconsolidation phase has been seized upon as crucial for the understanding of memory stability and, more recently, as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of disorders such as post-traumatic stress and drug addiction. However, little is known about the reactivation process, or what might be the adaptive function of retrieval-induced plasticity. Reconsolidation has long been proposed to mediate memory updating, but only recently has this hypothesis been supported experimentally. Here, the adaptive function of memory reconsolidation is explored in more detail, with a strong emphasis on its role in updating memories to maintain their relevance.

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    • "e . , its ability to be updated according to new circumstances ( Lee , 2009 ; Gisquet - Verrier and Riccio , 2012 ) . Evidence for the reconsolidation process is supported by observations of experimental amnesia provoked by various treatments given during memory reactivation . "
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    ABSTRACT: Since Damasio introduced the somatic markers hypothesis in Damasio (1994), it has spread through the psychological community, where it is now commonly acknowledged that somatic states are a factor in producing the qualitative dimension of our experiences. Present actions are emotionally guided by those somatic states that were previously activated in similar experiences. In this model, somatic markers serve as a kind of embodied memory. Here, we test whether the manipulation of somatic markers can modulate the emotional evaluation of negative memories. Because facial feedback has been shown to be a powerful means of modifying emotional judgements, we used it to manipulate somatic markers. Participants first read a sad story in order to induce a negative emotional memory and then were asked to rate their emotions and memory about the text. Twenty-four hours later, the same participants were asked to assume a predetermined facial feedback (smiling) while reactivating their memory of the sad story. The participants were once again asked to fill in emotional and memory questionnaires about the text. Our results showed that participants who had smiled during memory reactivation later rated the text less negatively than control participants. However, the contraction of the zygomaticus muscles during memory reactivation did not have any impact on episodic memory scores. This suggests that manipulating somatic states modified emotional memory without affecting episodic memory. Thus, modulating memories through bodily states might pave the way to studying memory as an embodied function and help shape new kinds of psychotherapeutic interventions.
    Frontiers in Psychology 05/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00650 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "The alleged functional role of this two-phased reconsolidation process is to keep our memories up to date by either altering their strength (Nader et al., 2000; Soeter and Kindt, 2010, 2011, 2012b) or incorporating new information into a memory trace (e.g., Forcato et al., 2007; Hupbach et al., 2007). A prerequisite to enter the reconsolidation window is that something can be learned during memory retrieval (e.g., Lee, 2009; Sevenster et al., 2013). A naturalistic event that can affect memory reconsolidation is the experience of a stressor. "
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    ABSTRACT: Retrieval of traumatic experiences is often accompanied by strong feelings of distress. Here, we examined in healthy participants whether post-reactivation stress experience affects the context-dependency of emotional memory. First, participants studied words from two distinctive emotional categories (i.e., war and disease) presented against a category-related background picture. One day later, participants returned to the lab and received a reminder of the words of one emotional category followed by exposure to a stress task (Stress group, n = 22) or a control task (Control group, n = 24). Six days later, memory contextualization was tested using a word stem completion task. Half of the word stems were presented against the encoding context (i.e., congruent context) and the other half of the word stems were presented against the other context (i.e., incongruent context). The results showed that participants recalled more words in the congruent context than in the incongruent context. Interestingly, cortisol mediated the effect of stress exposure on memory contextualization. The stronger the post-reactivation cortisol response, the more memory performance relied on the contextual embedding of the words. Taken together, the current findings suggest that a moderate cortisol response after memory reactivation might serve an adaptive function in preventing generalization of emotional memories over contexts.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 12/2014; 50:72–84. DOI:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.07.030 · 4.94 Impact Factor
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    • "These inconsistent findings are captured by two competing accounts (Lee, 2009): First, the destabilization theory posits that in order to add new information to an existing memory it is first destabilized, then modified, and finally restabilized generating a modified memory trace for future recall (Fig. 1A). "
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    ABSTRACT: When a stable memory is reactivated it becomes transiently labile and requires restabilization, a process known as reconsolidation. Animal studies have convincingly demonstrated that during reconsolidation memories are modifiable and can be erased when reactivation is followed by an interfering intervention. Few studies have been conducted in humans, however, and results are inconsistent regarding the extent to which a memory can be degraded. We used a motor sequence learning paradigm to show that the length of reactivation constitutes a crucial boundary condition determining whether human motor memories can be degraded. In our first experiment, we found that a short reactivation (less than 60sec) renders the memory labile and susceptible to degradation through interference, while a longer reactivation does not. In our second experiment, we reproduce these results and show a significant linear relationship between the length of memory reactivation and the detrimental effect of the interfering task performed afterwards, i.e. the longer the reactivation, the smaller the memory loss due to interference. Our data suggest that reactivation via motor execution activates a time-dependent process that initially destabilizes the memory, which is then followed by restabilization during further practice.
    Cortex 10/2014; 9. DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2014.07.008 · 5.13 Impact Factor
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