Limits on lability: Boundaries of reconsolidation and the relationship to metaplasticity

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Reconsolidation, a process by which long-term memories are rendered malleable following retrieval, has been shown to occur across many different species and types of memory. However, there are conditions under which memories do not reconsolidate, and the reasons for this are poorly understood. One emerging theory is that these boundary conditions are mediated by a form of metaplasticity: cellular changes through which experience can affect future synaptic plasticity. We review evidence that N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) might contribute to this phenomenon, and hypothesize that resistance to memory destabilization may be mediated by the ratio of GluN2A/GluN2B subunits that make up these receptors. Qualities such as memory strength and the age of the memory may increase the GluN2A/GluN2B ratio, reducing the ability of reactivation cues to induce destabilization, thereby preventing reconsolidation. Other examples of experience-dependent learning and evolutionary perspectives of reconsolidation are also discussed.

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