A reminder before extinction strengthens episodic memory via reconsolidation but fails to disrupt generalized threat responses

Marijn C.W. Kroes, Joseph E. Dunsmoor, Qi Lin, Michael Evans, Elizabeth A. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A reminder can temporarily renew flexibility of consolidated memories, referred to as reconsolidation. Pavlovian threat-conditioning studies suggest that a reminder can renew flexibility of threat responses but that episodic memories remain stable. In contrast, outside the threat-conditioning domain, studies testing memory for word lists or stories find that a reminder can renew flexibility of episodic memory. This discrepancy in findings leaves it unclear if episodic memories reconsolidate, or only Pavlovian responses. Here we unite the different approaches in the field and show that a reminder can retroactively strengthen episodic memory for Pavlovian threat-conditioned events, but that, in contrast to threat-conditioning studies with simple sensory stimuli, extinction after a reminder fails to prevent recovery of generalized threat responses. Our results indicate the episodic memories also reconsolidate, allowing strengthening of relevant memories. These findings also suggest that generalized threat responses and episodic memories are less susceptible to be modified by reminder-interventions procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10858
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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