Differential neurophysiological correlates of retrieval of consolidated and reconsolidated memories in humans: an ERP and pupillometry study

Campos-Arteaga, G.
Forcato, Cecilia
Wainstein, G.
Lagos, R.
Palacios-García, I.
Artigas, C.
Morales, R.
Pedreira, María Eugenia
Rodríguez, E.
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"Consolidated memories can return to a labile state if they are reactivated by unpredictable reminders. To persist, active memories must be re-stabilized through a process known as reconsolidation. Although there is consistent behavioral evidence about this process in humans, the retrieval process of reconsolidated memories remains poorly understood. In this context, one fundamental question is whether the same or different neurophysiological mechanisms are involved in retrieval of consolidated and reconsolidated memories. Because it has been demonstrated that the exposure to the reconsolidation process may restructure and strengthen memories, we hypothesized distinct neurophysiological patterns during retrieval of reconsolidated memories. In addition, we hypothesized that interfering with the reconsolidation process using a new learning can prevent these neurophysiological changes. To test it, consolidated, reconsolidated and declarative memories whose reconsolidation process was interfered (i.e., picture-word pairs) were evaluated in humans in an old/new associative recall task while the brain activity and the pupillary response were recorded using electroencephalography and eyetracking. Our results showed that retrieval of reconsolidated memories elicits specific patterns of brain activation, characterized by an earlier peak latency and a smaller magnitude of the left parietal ERP old/new effect compared to memories that were only consolidated or whose reconsolidation process was interfered by a new learning. Moreover, our results demonstrated that only retrieval of reconsolidated memories is associated with a late reversed mid-frontal effect in a 600–690 time window. Complementarily, memories that were reactivated showed an earlier peak latency of the pupil old/new effect compared to non-reactivated memories. These findings support the idea that reconsolidation has an important impact in how memories are retrieved in the future, showing that retrieval of reconsolidated memories is partially supported by specific brain mechanisms."