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A highly demanding working memory task reduces the reconsolidation of a threat memory and its biases processing towards threat.

Soledad Picco

  • Capital Federal,
  • Argentina
  • Soledad Picco ¹𝄒²
  • , Rodrigo Fernandez ¹𝄒²
  • , Maria E. Pedreira ¹𝄒²
  • 1 Instituto de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Neurociencias (IFIBYNE)- CONICET, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • 2 Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Consolidated memories can be reactivated into a labile state by the presentation of a reminder. The reactivation of the memory trace is followed by a process of re-stabilization known as reconsolidation. In most of reconsolidation studies, a second task, with similar characteristics to those of the target memory, is used as an amnesic agent.
Anxiety manifest as a persistent and generalized defensive system, activated when predicted aversive events are perceived as a threat and uncertain. In laboratory, threat conditioning has been taken as the paradigm for assessing fear memories and anxiety related disorders. In the framework of the reconsolidation the idea that this process would allow to modify this type of maladaptive memories has been proposed.
Here we aim to interfere the re-stabilization of an implicit aversive memory in humans using a high demanding working memory task, which aimed to overload this transient memory system. To reach such goal, we designed a 3 day protocol, and compared a trained threat conditioning group, that 24hs later had or not a reminder, or a fake working memory task; 48hs after, all 3 groups performed an extinction follow by a reinstatement and several tasks targeting cognitive bias towards threat. We revealed that the memory reconsolidation interference is effective for the implicit memory retention but not for the declarative memory. Finally, we showed how the interference reduced biased processing towards threat.