Modulation of fear memory by retrieval and extinction: A clue for memory deconsolidation

Ingie Hong, Jeongyeon Kim, Beomjong Song, Sungmo Park, Junuk Lee, Jihye Kim, Bobae An, Sukwon Lee, Sukwoo Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Memories are fragile and easily forgotten at first, but after a consolidation period of hours to weeks, are inscribed in our brains as stable traces, no longer vulnerable to conventional amnesic treatments. Retrieval of a memory renders it labile, akin to the early stages of consolidation. This phenomenon has been explored as memory reactivation, in the sense that the memory is temporarily 'deconsolidated', allowing a short time window for amnesic intervention. This window closes again after reconsolidation, which restores the stability of the memory. In contrast to this 'transient deconsolidation' and the short-spanned amnesic effects of consolidation blockers, some specific treatments can disrupt even consolidated memory, leading to apparent amnesia. We propose the term 'amnesic deconsolidation' to describe such processes that lead to disruption of consolidated memory and/or consolidated memory traces. We review studies of these 'amnesic deconsolidation' treatments that enhance memory extinction, alleviate relapse, and reverse learning-induced plasticity. The transient deconsolidation that memory retrieval induces and the amnesic deconsolidation that these regimes induce both seem to dislodge a component that stabilizes consolidated memory. Characterizing this component, at both molecular and network levels, will provide a key to developing clinical treatments for memory-related disorders and to defining the consolidated memory trace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-229
Number of pages25
JournalReviews in the Neurosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • amnesia
  • deconsolidation
  • extinction
  • fear memory
  • memory retrieval
  • modulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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