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Learn Mem. 2012 Feb 17;19(3):91-8. doi: 10.1101/lm.023408.111.

Remaking memories: reconsolidation updates positively motivated spatial memory in rats.

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Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85724, USA.


There is strong evidence that reactivation of a memory returns it to a labile state, initiating a restabilization process termed reconsolidation, which allows for updating of the memory. In this study we investigated reactivation-dependent updating using a new positively motivated spatial task in rodents that was designed specifically to model a human list-learning paradigm. On Day 1, rats were trained to run to three feeders (List 1) for rewards. On Day 2, rats were trained to run to three different feeders (List 2) in either the same (Reminder condition) or a different (No Reminder condition) experimental context than on Day 1. On Day 3, rats were cued to recall List 1. Rats in the Reminder condition made significantly more visits to List 2 feeders (intrusions) during List 1 recall than rats in the No Reminder condition, indicating that the reminder triggered reactivation and allowed integration of List 2 items into List 1. This reminder effect was selective for the reactivated List 1 memory, as no intrusions occurred when List 2 was recalled on Day 3. No intrusions occurred when retrieval took place in a different context from the one used at encoding, indicating that the expression of the updated memory is dependent upon the retrieval context. Finally, the level of intrusions was highest when retrieval took place immediately after List 2 learning, and generally declined when retrieval occurred 1-4 h later, indicating that the List 2 memory competed with short-term retrieval of List 1. These results demonstrate the dynamic nature of memory over time and the impact of environmental context at different stages of memory processing.

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