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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 May;36(5):1400-17. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

Reconsolidation of drug memories.

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Translational Addiction Research Center, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program and Program in Neuroscience, Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6520, USA.


Persistent, unwanted memories are believed to be key contributors to drug addiction and the chronic relapse problem over the lifetime of the addict. Contrary to the long-held idea that memories are static and fixed, new studies in the last decade have shown that memories are dynamic and changeable. However, they are changeable only under specific conditions. When a memory is retrieved (reactivated), it becomes labile for a period of minutes to hours and then is reconsolidated to maintain long-term memory. Recent findings indicate that even well-established long-term memories may be susceptible to disruption by interfering with reconsolidation through delivery of certain amnestic agents during memory retrieval. Here I review the growing literature on memory reconsolidation in animal models of addiction, including sensitization, conditioned place preference and self-administration. I also discuss (a) several issues that need to be considered in interpreting the findings from reconsolidation studies and (b) future challenges and directions for memory reconsolidation studies in the field of addiction. The findings indicate promise for using this approach as a therapy for disrupting the long-lasting memories that can trigger relapse.

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