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Front Behav Neurosci. 2014 Apr 28;8:144. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00144. eCollection 2014.

Inhibition and enhancement of contextual fear memory destabilization.

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School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.


The reactivation of a memory can result in its destabilization, necessitating a process of memory reconsolidation to maintain its persistence. Here we show that the destabilization of a contextual fear memory is potentiated by the cannabinoid CB1 receptor agonist Arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide (ACEA). Co-infusion of ACEA and the IkappaB kinase (IKK) inhibitor sulfasalazine (Sulf) into the dorsal hippocampus impaired contextual fear memory reconsolidation. This observation was achieved under behavioral conditions that, by themselves, did not result in a reconsolidation impairment by Sulf alone. Moreover, we show that the destabilization of a contextual fear memory is dependent upon neuronal activity in the dorsal hippocampus, but not memory expression per se. The effect on contextual fear memory destabilization of intra-hippocampal ACEA was replicated by systemic injections, allowing an amnestic effect of MK-801. These results indicate that memory expression and destabilization, while being independent from one another, are both dependent upon memory reactivation. Moreover, memory destabilization can be enhanced pharmacologically, which may be of therapeutic potential.


CB1 receptor; boundary conditions; memory reconsolidation; reactivation

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