Mechanisms of memory stabilization: are consolidation and reconsolidation similar or distinct processes?

Trends Neurosci. 2005 Jan;28(1):51-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2004.11.001.


Consolidation of new memories depends on a crucial phase of protein synthesis. It is widely held that, once consolidated, memories are stable and resilient to disruption. However, established memories become labile when recalled and require another phase of protein synthesis to be maintained. Therefore, it has been proposed that when a memory is reactivated it must undergo additional consolidation (reconsolidation) to persist. To determine whether reconsolidation recapitulates consolidation, in the past few years several groups have investigated whether the same molecules and pathways mediate the formation of a memory and its maintenance after reactivation. At first glance, the results appear conflicting: although both processes appear to engage the same molecules and mechanisms, brain areas involved in consolidation after initial training are not required for reconsolidation. In addition, the formation of a memory and its maintenance after reactivation seem to have distinctive temporal molecular requirements. This review concludes with a working model that could explain the apparent controversy of memory vulnerability after reactivation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology*