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Neuron. 2002 Aug 29;35(5):951-60.

Extinction antagonizes olfactory memory at the subcellular level.

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  • 1Theodor Boveri Institut für Biowissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für Genetik und Neurobiologie, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, Würzburg, Germany.


Memory loss occurs by diverse mechanisms, as different time constants of performance decrement and sensitivities to experimental manipulations suggest. While the phenomena of memory decay, interference, and extinction are well established behaviorally, little is known about them at the circuit or molecular level. In Drosophila, odorant memories lasting up to 3 hr can be localized to mushroom body Kenyon cells, a single neuronal level in the olfactory pathway. The plasticity underlying this memory trace can be induced without Kenyon cell synaptic output. Experimental extinction, i.e., presentation of the conditioned stimulus without the reinforcer, reduces memory performance and does so at the same circuit level as memory formation. Thus, unreinforced presentation of learned odorants antagonizes intracellularly the signaling cascade underlying memory formation.

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