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Trends Neurosci. 2008 Apr;31(4):170-5. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2008.01.001. Epub 2008 Mar 10.

Defining memories by their distinct molecular traces.

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Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, 3801 University Street, Montreal, QC H3A 2B4, Canada.


It is often stated that short-term memory is consolidated in a protein-synthesis-dependent manner into long-term memory. Alternatively, memories might consist of distinct molecular traces that last for different periods of time. These traces can be graded by their 'volatility'; traces encoded by activation of protein kinases are more volatile than traces encoded by morphological changes at preexisting synapses. The least volatile ('static') traces are due to the generation and stabilization of new synapses. Importantly, whereas at the cellular level these traces are generated independently of each other, they might be linked at the network level where volatile memory traces are required to set up a cellular network that is in turn required to induce the static memory trace.

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