Synaptic consolidation as a temporally variable process: Uncovering the parameters modulating its time-course

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HIGHLIGHTSThe time-course of synaptic consolidation is not rigid, but dynamic.Strong emotional learning speeds up synaptic consolidation.The accelerated synaptic consolidation is triggered by glucocorticoid.Previous contextual representation reduces the time required for consolidation.Memories are not instantly created in the brain, requiring a gradual stabilization process called consolidation to be stored and persist in a long-lasting manner. However, little is known whether this time-dependent process is dynamic or static, and the factors that might modulate it. Here, we hypothesized that the time-course of consolidation could be affected by specific learning parameters, changing the time window where memory is susceptible to retroactive interference. In the rodent contextual fear conditioning paradigm, we compared weak and strong training protocols and found that in the latter memory is susceptible to post-training hippocampal inactivation for a shorter period of time. The accelerated consolidation process triggered by the strong training was mediated by glucocorticoids, since this effect was blocked by pre-training administration of metyrapone. In addition, we found that pre-exposure to the training context also accelerates fear memory consolidation. Hence, our results demonstrate that the time window in which memory is susceptible to post-training interferences varies depending on fear conditioning intensity and contextual familiarity. We propose that the time-course of memory consolidation is dynamic, being directly affected by attributes of the learning experiences.

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