Molecular bases of long-term memories: a question of persistence

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2002 Apr;12(2):211-6. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(02)00305-7.


The most distinctive attribute of long-term memory is persistence over time. New studies have uncovered many aspects of the molecular and cellular biology of synaptic plasticity, and the acquisition and consolidation of memory, which are thought to depend on synaptic plasticity. Much less, however, is known about the molecular and cellular biology of long-term memory persistence. Recent findings in the field are construed within the conceptual framework that proposes that consolidation and persistence of long-term memories require modulation of gene expression, which can culminate in synaptic remodeling. Whether modulation of gene expression, and particularly the ensuing morphological plasticity of the synapse, is permissive, causal or sufficient for the materialization and persistence of the long-term trace is, as yet, undetermined. How persistent is persistence? Renewed interest is focused on the possibility that some long-term memories consolidate anew with retrieval, and could, under certain conditions, become transiently shaky in this period of reconsolidation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology