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.
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    • "It has long been recognised that such episodic memory representations are stored as constituent features that, upon retrieval, need to be relocated, reactivated and reintegrated (Bartlett, 1932; Schacter, Norman, & Koutstaal, 1998). Having a constructive and flexible episodic memory system is thought to be mostly advantageous (Schacter, Guerin, & St. Jacques, 2011), in that it allows us to recombine details to imagine the future (Schacter & Addis, 2007), creatively solve problems (Howe, Garner, Charlesworth, & Knott, 2011) and update memories with recently acquired information (Lee, 2009; St. Jacques, Olm, & Schacter, 2013). However, there are some downsides to this constructive, flexible set-up, in that it renders us vulnerable to memory distortions and errors. "
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    ABSTRACT: The constructive nature of memory is generally adaptive, allowing us to efficiently store, process and learn from life events, and simulate future scenarios to prepare ourselves for what may come. However, the cost of a flexibly constructive memory system is the occasional conjunction error, whereby the components of an event are authentic, but the combination of those components is false. Using a novel recombination paradigm, it was demonstrated that details from one autobiographical memory (AM) may be incorrectly incorporated into another, forming AM conjunction errors that elude typical reality monitoring checks. The factors that contribute to the creation of these conjunction errors were examined across two experiments. Conjunction errors were more likely to occur when the corresponding details were partially rather than fully recombined, likely due to increased plausibility and ease of simulation of partially recombined scenarios. Brief periods of imagination increased conjunction error rates, in line with the imagination inflation effect. Subjective ratings suggest that this inflation is due to similarity of phenomenological experience between conjunction and authentic memories, consistent with a source monitoring perspective. Moreover, objective scoring of memory content indicates that increased perceptual detail may be particularly important for the formation of AM conjunction errors.
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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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