100 | Generalization of maladaptive memories during reconsolidation

Cognition, Behavior, and Memory

Author: María Candela Di Pietro | Email: cande.dipietro@gmail.com

María Candela Di Pietro , Sofía Caballero , Diego Moncada

1° Instituto de Biología Celular y Neurociencias, Facultad de Medicina (CONICET-UBA).
2° Departamento de Ciencias de la Vida, Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires.

Remembering can trigger a process called reconsolidation that destabilizes memories and turn them into a reactive state until their restabilization. Interfering with this process can disrupt consolidated memories. Thus, it was proposed to design treatment therapies for traumatic memories, phobias, and addictions by acting in this phase. However, reconsolidation is also a mechanism that allows memory updating. This could enable innocuous events, associated with a reminder of aversive or fear-related experiences, to become incorporated into the trace, resulting in a maladaptive generalization of the memories sought to attenuate. Here we begin to study this possibility.
To do this, we trained animals in a contextual fear conditioning task and evaluated the possibility of transferring the fear memory to the spatial context to a non-contextual cue (tone), innocuous to the animals, during its reconsolidation. Conversely, we studied whether the reactivation of a tone fear conditioning memory can generalize into an aversive memory towards a novel context during the reconsolidation phase. Our results show that if the reminders that retrieve these memories incorporate cues not contained during learning, the aversion to the conditioned stimulus generalizes toward these cues.
This first approximation suggests that information added to a trace while aversive memories reconsolidate can originate and generalize maladaptive memories.