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Background:Reactivated memories go through a process of reconsolidation, during which they are malleable and susceptible to modification. Strategies targeting the interruption of memory reconsolidation hold the promise of weakening fear memories that underlie traumatic stress disorders. Although many studies have examined the efficacy of reconsolidation interference strategies with fear memories developed in a laboratory, very few have examined this with trauma-related episodic memories. This study aims to examine whether new learning can interfere with the reconsolidation of trauma-related episodic memories, when the affective content of the new learning and memory match.Methods:Boston-area young adults (n = 94) wrote about negative autobiographical memories; specifically, their personal memories of the Boston Marathon bombings. Following reactivation, participants were randomized to receive interference with a negative, positive, neutral, or no story. One week later, participants were tested for memory recall.Results:Comparisons between conditions with relevant covariates revealed a significant interfering effect for a negative story, relative to no story, on recall (P < .05, 95% CI [−3.90, −0.04]), d = 0.62). In contrast, the neutral and positive story, relative to no story, resulted in smaller and nonsignificant effects.Conclusions:These findings indicate that reconsolidation interference effects can be achieved for trauma-related episodic memories and the emotional valence of interference material may be an important contextual factor in achieving these effects. This study provides support for further research translating memory reconsolidation findings into treatments for traumatic stress disorders.

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