Does reactivation trigger episodic memory change? A meta-analysis

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Abstract

According to the reconsolidation hypothesis, long-term memories return to a plastic state upon their reactivation, leaving them vulnerable to interference effects and requiring re-storage processes or else these memories might be permanently lost. The present study used a meta-analytic approach to critically evaluate the evidence for reactivation-induced changes in human episodic memory. Results indicated that reactivation makes episodic memories susceptible to physiological and behavioral interference. When applied shortly after reactivation, interference manipulations altered the amount of information that could be retrieved from the original learning event. This effect was more pronounced for remote memories and memories of narrative structure. Additionally, new learning following reactivation reliably increased the number of intrusions from new information into the original memory. These findings support a dynamic view of long-term memory by showing that memories can be changed long after they were acquired.

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