Detection of a temporal error triggers reconsolidation of amygdala-dependent memories

Curr Biol. 2013 Mar 18;23(6):467-72. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.01.053. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Updating memories is critical for adaptive behaviors, but the rules and mechanisms governing that process are still not well defined. During a limited time window, the reactivation of consolidated aversive memories triggers memory lability and induces a plasticity-dependent reconsolidation process in the lateral nucleus of amygdala (LA) [1-5]. However, whether new information is necessary for initiating reconsolidation is not known. Here we show that changing the temporal relationship between the conditioned stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus (US) during reactivation is sufficient to trigger synaptic plasticity and reconsolidation of an aversive memory in the LA. These findings demonstrate that time is a core part of the CS-US association and that new information must be presented during reactivation in order to trigger LA-dependent reconsolidation processes. In sum, this study provides new basic knowledge about the precise rules governing memory reconsolidation of aversive memories that might be used to treat traumatic memories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1 / metabolism
  • Electrical Synapses / physiology
  • Fear*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Memory*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


  • Early Growth Response Protein 1
  • Egr1 protein, rat