Recent demonstrations of "reconsolidation" suggest that memories can be modified when they are reactivated. Reconsolidation has been observed in human procedural memory and in implicit memory in infants. This study asks whether episodic memory undergoes reconsolidation. College students learned a list of objects on Day 1. On Day 2, they received a reminder or not, and then learned a second list. Memory for List 1 was tested immediately on Day 2 (Experiment 2) or on Day 3 (Experiment 1). Although the reminder did not moderate the number of items recalled from List 1 on either day, subjects who received a reminder incorrectly intermixed items from the second list when recalling List 1 on Day 3. Experiment 2 showed that this effect does not occur immediately and thus is time-dependent. The reminder did not affect memory for List 2 on Day 3 (Experiment 3), demonstrating that modification occurred only for the original memory (List 1). The study demonstrates the crucial role of reminders for the modification of episodic memory, that reconsolidation of episodic memory is time-dependent, and, in contrast to previous reconsolidation findings, that reconsolidation is also a constructive process, one that supports the incorporation of new information in memory.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience