The role of GABAA in the expression of updated information through the reconsolidation process in humans
Consolidated memory can be again destabilized by the presentation of a memory cue (reminder) of the previously acquired information. During this process of labilization/restabilization memory traces can be either impaired, strengthened or updated in content.
Here, we study if a consolidated memory can be updated by linking one original cue to two different outcomes and whether this process was modulated by the GABAergic system. To aim that, we designed two experiments carried out in three consecutive days. All participants learned a list of non-sense syllable pairs on day 1. On day 2 the new information was introduced after the reminder or no-reminder presentation. Participants were tested on day 3 for the updated or original list (Exp. 1). In Exp. 2 we tested whether this new information was incorporated by an inhibitory process mediated by the GABAergic system. For that, participants retrieved the original information before being taken Clonazepam 0.25 mg (GABAA agonist) or Placebo pill.
We found that the groups that received the reminder correctly recalled the old and new information. However, the no reminder groups only correctly recalled the original information. Furthermore, when testing occurred in the presence of Clonazepam, the group that received the reminder plus the new information showed an impaired original memory performance compared to the group that received only Clonazepam (without reminder) or the reminder plus Placebo pill.
These results show that new information can be added to a reactivated declarative memory in humans by linking one cue to two different outcomes. Furthermore, we shed light on the mechanisms of memory updating being the GABAergic system involved in the modulation of the old and new information expression.