Moderate Partially Reduplicated Conditioned Stimuli as Retrieval Cue Can Increase Effect on Preventing Relapse of Fear to Compound Stimuli

  • Li J
  • Chen W
  • Caoyang J
  • et al.
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© 2017 Li, Chen, Caoyang, Wu, Jie, Xu and Zheng. The theory of memory reconsolidation argues that consolidated memory is not unchangeable. Once a memory is reactivated it may go back into an unstable state and need new protein synthesis to be consolidated again, which is called “memory reconsolidation”. Boundary studies have shown that interfering with reconsolidation through pharmacologic or behavioral intervention can lead to the updating of the initial memory, for example, erasing undesired memories. Behavioral procedures based on memory reconsolidation interference have been shown to be an effective way to inhibit fear memory relapse after extinction. However, the effectiveness of retrieval-extinction differs by subtle differences in the protocol of the reactivation session. This represents a challenge with regard to finding an optimal operational model to facilitate its clinical use for patients suffering from pathogenic memories such as those associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of the laboratory models for fear learning have used a single conditioned stimulus (CS) paired with an unconditioned stimulus (US). This has simplified the real situation of traumatic events to an excessive degree, and thus, limits the clinical application of the findings based on these models. Here, we used a basic visual compound CS model as the CS to ascertain whether partial repetition of the compound CSs in conditioning can reactivate memory into reconsolidation. The results showed that the no retrieval group or the 1/3 ratio retrieval group failed to open the memory reconsolidation time window. The 2/3 repetition retrieval group and the whole repetition retrieval group were able to prevent fear reinstatement, whereas only a 2/3 ratio repetition of the initial compound CS as a reminder could inhibit spontaneous recovery. We inferred that a retrieval-extinction paradigm was also effective in a more complex model of fear if a sufficient prediction error (PE) could be generated in the reactivation period. In addition, in order to achieve an optimal effect, a CS of moderate discrepancy should be used as a reminder.




Li, J., Chen, W., Caoyang, J., Wu, W., Jie, J., Xu, L., & Zheng, X. (2017). Moderate Partially Reduplicated Conditioned Stimuli as Retrieval Cue Can Increase Effect on Preventing Relapse of Fear to Compound Stimuli. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11.

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