Behavioral Disruption of Memory Reconsolidation: From Bench to Bedside and Back Again

Drexler 2018

Shira Meir Drexler and Oliver T. Wolf

During the postretrieval reconsolidation “window”, memories can be disrupted, strengthened, or updated using various pharmacological and behavioral manipulations. Behavioral manipulations are more ecologically valid, thus allowing better understating of memory modification under natural conditions, but they can also be less potent compared to pharmacological interventions. In this review we present the current human and animal literature, aiming to understand the modulatory factors (i.e., task relevance, complexity, intensity) that promote reconsolidation disruption in purely behavioral means. The reviewed studies have suggested that both very simple tasks and more complex learning paradigms can be used to disrupt or update memory reconsolidation, even of stronger emotional memories. Stress exposure is a possible interference task, yet the conflicting results leave many open questions regarding its required timing and intensity. Going from bench to bedside and back again, we point to the need for more research in clinical populations to establish the therapeutic potential of reconsolidation-based treatments. Several findings from outside the laboratory offer promising leads for future research.

Memory Reconsolidation and Extinction Have Distinct Temporal and Biochemical Signatures

Mappe: Boundaties/2004 a

Akinobu Suzuki, 1 Sheena A. Josselyn, 3,4Paul W. Frankland,3,4 Shoichi Masushige,1,2 Alcino J. Silva, 4 and Satoshi Kid


Reonsolidation and extinction, two opposing processes triggered by memory retrieval, have distinct biochemical signatures: cannabinoid receptor 1 or L-type voltage-gated calcium channels blocks extinction but not reconsolidation. These studies demonstrate the dynamic nature of memory processing after retrieval and represent a first step toward a molecular dissection of underlying

Experimental extinction does not reflect forgetting of the original memory trace but rather reflects new learning.

Memory retrieval may initiate two potentially dissociable but opposite processes: reconsolidation and extinction. Re-consolidation acts to stabilize, whereas extinction tends to weaken, the expression of the original memory. The duration of a reminder event may be an important determinant of subsequent memory processing: brief reminders lead to reconsolidation, whereas longer reminders result in memory extinction (Debiec et al., 2002; Eisenberg et al., 2003; Pedreira and Maldonado, 2003).

There has been renewed interest in memory processing after retrieval: brief exposure to the CS seems to trigger a second wave of memory consolidation (reconsolidation), whereas prolonged exposure to the CS leads to the formation of a new memory that competes with the original memory (extinction)

We provided a systematic demonstration of how reexposure duration, the age of the memory, and the strength of the memory interact to influence behavior in tasks that model declarative memory.

The results presented here reveal three distinct timedependent phases of memory processing after memory retrieval. 

During the first phase, the retrieved memory is in a state that precedes both the reconsolidation and extinction processes. Further extending reexposure, however, initiates the protein synthesis-dependent reconsolidation processes required for the stability of the memory trace. Hence, blocking protein synthesis during this second phase compromises the long-term stability of the trace. Finally, prolonged reexposures to the CS in the absence of the US trigger the formation of a new memory trace that encodes the dissociation between the CS and the US (CS–no US; extinction memory), therefore competing with the original memory (CS–US). Inhibition of protein synthesis at this stage blocks the formation of this new extinction memory, leaving expression of the original memory unchanged. It is important to note that our results also indicate that there is an interaction between the extinction and reconsolidation processes: although blocking protein synthesis during short reexposures (reconsolidation) disrupts the original memory, blocking protein synthesis during prolonged reexposure, conditions in which both reconsolidation and extinction would be expected to be initiated, leaves the original memory unaffected.

Memory Reconsolidation Interference as an Emerging Treatment for Emotional Disorders: Strengths, Limitations, Challenges, and Opportunities


Mappe: Boundaries 2017 a + Merenl Kindt

Tom Beckers and Merel Kindt

Experimental research on emotional memory reconsolidation interference, or the induction of amnesia for previously established emotional memory, has a long tradition, but the potential of that research for the development of novel interventions to treat psychological disorders has been recognized only recently. Here we provide an overview of basic research and clinical studies

on emotional memory reconsolidation interference. We point out specific advantages of interventions based on memory reconsolidation interference over traditional treatment for emotional disorders. We also explain how findings from basic research suggest limitations and challenges to clinical translation that may help to understand why clinical trials have met with mixed success so far and how their success can be increased. In closing, we preview new intervention approaches beyond the induction of amnesia that the phenomenon of memory reconsolidation may afford for alleviating the burden imposed by emotional memories and comment on theoretical controversies regarding the nature of memory reconsolidation.

Reconsolidation and Extinction Are Dissociable and Mutually Exclusive Processes: Behavioral and Molecular Evidence

Mappe: Boudaries

Emiliano Merlo, Amy L. Milton, Zara Y. Gooze´e, David E. Theobald, and Barry J. Everitt


Memory persistence is critically influenced by retrieval. In rats, a single presentation of a conditioned fear stimulus induces memory reconsolidation and fear memory persistence, while repeated fear cue presentations result in loss of fear through extinction. These two opposite behavioral outcomes are operationally linked by the number of cue presentations at memory retrieval. However, the behavioral properties and mechanistic determinants of the transition have not yet been explored; in particular, whether reconsolidation and extinction processes coexist or are mutually exclusive, depending on the exposure to non-reinforced retrieval events. We characterized both behaviorally and molecularly the transition from reconsolidation to extinction of conditioned fear and showed that an increase in calcineurin (CaN) in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) supports the shift from fear maintenance to fear inhibition. Gradually increasing the extent of retrieval induces a gradual decrease in freezing responses to the conditioned stimulus and a gradual increase in amygdala CaN level. This newly synthesized CaN is required for the extinction, but not the reconsolidation, of conditioned fear. During the transition from reconsolidation to extinction, we have revealed an insensitive state of the fear memory where NMDA-type glutamate receptor agonist and antagonist drugs are unable either to modulate CaN levels in the BLA or alter the reconsolidation or extinction processes. Together, our data indicate both that reconsolidation and extinction are mutually exclusive processes and also reveal the presence of a transitional, or “limbo,” state of the original memory between these two alternative outcomes of fear memory retrieval, when neither process is engaged.