Memory reconsolidation as a tool to endure encoding deficits in elderly

PLoS One. 2020 Aug 7;15(8):e0237361. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0237361. eCollection 2020.


Normal aging involves changes in the ability to acquire, consolidate and recall new information. It has been recently proposed that the reconsolidation process is also affected in older adults. Reconsolidation is triggered after reminder presentation, allowing memories to be modified: they can be impaired, strengthened or changed in their content. In young adults it was previously shown that the presentation of repetitive reminders induces memory strengthening one day after reactivation and the presentation of at least one reminder increases memory persistence several days after reactivation. However, until now this process has remained elusive in older adults. We hypothesize that older adults need a stronger reminder to induce memory strengthening through the reconsolidation process than young adults. To test this, we perform a three-day experiment. On day 1, participants learned 15 sound-word associations, on day 2 they received no reminders (NR group), one reminder (R group) or two rounds of reactivations (Rx2 group). Finally, they were tested on day 7. We found that, contrary to our hypothesis, older adults show a memory improvement triggered by repeated labilization/reconsolidation processes to an equal extent than young adults. These results open new perspectives into the use of reconsolidation to improve daily acquired information and the development of therapeutic home used tools to produce memory enhancement in healthy older adults or those with cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This work was supported by AGENCIA (PICT 2016 N°0229 to CF). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.