5 years ago

Enhancement of extinction memory by pharmacological and behavioral interventions targeted to its reactivation

Flávia Zacouteguy Boos, Josué Haubrich, Lucas de Oliveira Alvares, Rodrigo O. Sierra, Jorge A. Quillfeldt, Ana P. Crestani, Adriano Machado
Extinction is a process that involves new learning that inhibits the expression of previously acquired memories. Although temporarily effective, extinction does not erase an original fear association. Since the extinction trace tends to fade over time, the original memory can resurge. On the other hand, strengthening effects have been described in several reconsolidation studies using different behavioral and pharmacological manipulations. In order to know whether an extinction memory can be strengthened by reactivation-based interventions in the contextual fear conditioning task, we began by replicating the classic phenomenon of spontaneous recovery to show that brief reexposure sessions can prevent the decay of the extinction trace over time in a long-lasting way. This fear attenuation was shown to depend both on L-type calcium channels and protein synthesis, which suggests a reconsolidation process behind the reactivation-induced strengthening effect. The extinction trace was also susceptible to enhancement by a post-reactivation infusion of a memory-enhancing drug (NaB), which was also able to prevent rapid fear reacquisition (savings). These findings point to new reactivation-based approaches able to strengthen an extinction memory to promote its persistence. The constructive interactions between extinction and reconsolidation may represent a promising novel approach in the realm of fear-related disorder treatments.

Publisher URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-11261-6

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11261-6

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