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Learn Mem. 2007 Mar 8;14(3):200-3. Print 2007 Mar.

Context preexposure prevents forgetting of a contextual fear memory: implication for regional changes in brain activation patterns associated with recent and remote memory tests.

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Department of Psychology, Center for Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.


Contextual fear conditioning was maintained over a 15-day retention interval suggesting no forgetting of the conditioning experience. However, a more subtle generalization test revealed that, as the retention interval increased, rats showed enhanced generalized fear to an altered context. Preexposure to the training context prior to conditioning, however, prevented this enhanced generalized fear from developing. These results support the hypothesis that the memory representation of the context degrades as the memory ages and is responsible for enhanced generalization. The implications of these results for systems consolidation versus forgetting interpretations of regional changes in neural activation patterns that occur as memories age are discussed.

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