Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Memory Breakdown

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Science Signaling  04 Mar 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 9, pp. ec84
DOI: 10.1126/stke.19ec84

The phenomenon of memory reconsolidation has made people question the traditional view that long-term memories become more stable and resistant to perturbation with time. Reconsolidation indicates that memory change is a continuous process and that change is initiated by retrieval experiences themselves. However, the cellular events and mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not been clear. Lee et al. provide evidence for degradation of postsynaptic proteins in hippocampal synapses thought to participate in the formation of contextual fear memories. Blockade of this degradation is accompanied by blockade of the retrieval-induced reorganization of the original memories. Thus, reconsolidation is like a breakdown of original memories while new elements are incorporated by new protein synthesis.

S.-H. Lee, J.-H. Choi, N. Lee, H.-R. Lee, J.-I. Kim, N.-K. Yu, S.-L. Choi, S.-H. Lee, H. Kim, B.-K. Kaang, Synaptic protein degradation underlies destabilization of retrieved fear memory. Science 319, 1253-1256 (2008). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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