Episodic memories formed during infancy are rapidly forgotten, a phenomenon associated with infantile amnesia, the inability of adults to recall early-life memories. In both rats and mice, infantile memories, although not expressed, are actually stored long term in a latent form. These latent memories can be reinstated later in life by certain behavioral reminders or by artificial reactivations of neuronal ensembles activated at training. Whether the recovery of infantile memories is limited by developmental age, maternal presence, or contingency of stimuli presentation remains to be determined. Here, we show that the return of inhibitory avoidance memory in rats following a behavioral reactivation consisting of an exposure to the context (conditioned stimuli [CS]) and footshock (unconditioned stimuli [US]) given in a temporally unpaired fashion, is evident immediately after US and is limited by the developmental age at which the reactivations are presented; however, it is not influenced by maternal presence or the time interval between training and reactivation. We conclude that one limiting factor for infantile memory reinstatement is developmental age, suggesting that a brain maturation process is necessary to allow the recovery of a "lost"infantile memory.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience