Updating Procedures Can Reorganize the Neural Circuit Supporting a Fear Memory

Janine L. Kwapis, Timothy J. Jarome, Nicole C. Ferrara, Fred J. Helmstetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Established memories undergo a period of vulnerability following retrieval, a process termed 'reconsolidation.' Recent work has shown that the hypothetical process of reconsolidation is only triggered when new information is presented during retrieval, suggesting that this process may allow existing memories to be modified. Reconsolidation has received increasing attention as a possible therapeutic target for treating disorders that stem from traumatic memories, yet little is known about how this process changes the original memory. In particular, it is unknown whether reconsolidation can reorganize the neural circuit supporting an existing memory after that memory is modified with new information. Here, we show that trace fear memory undergoes a protein synthesis-dependent reconsolidation process following exposure to a single updating trial of delay conditioning. Further, this reconsolidation-dependent updating process appears to reorganize the neural circuit supporting the trace-trained memory, so that it better reflects the circuit supporting delay fear. Specifically, after a trace-to-delay update session, the amygdala is now required for extinction of the updated memory but the retrosplenial cortex is no longer required for retrieval. These results suggest that updating procedures could be used to force a complex, poorly defined memory circuit to rely on a better-defined neural circuit that may be more amenable to behavioral or pharmacological manipulation. This is the first evidence that exposure to new information can fundamentally reorganize the neural circuit supporting an existing memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1688-1697
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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