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Encyclopedia > Memory consolidation

The broad definition of memory consolidation is the process by which recent memories are crystallised into long-term memory. The word "consolidation" is used to refer to different levels: Memory is a function of the brain: the ability to retain information. ... Long-term memory (LTM) is memory that lasts from over 30 seconds to years. ...

  1. Molecular consolidation: The molecular process by which long-term conductivity of synapses is affected. Memory consolidation occurs after training (e.g. an exposition to a stimulus-response pair). Consolidation increases in strength over time with repetition. Maximum consolidation with minimum time investment is achieved by means of spaced repetition. Molecular consolidation requires protein synthesis.
  2. Network consolidation: Many researchers believe that episodic memories are initially stored in the hippocampus and are slowly moved (or 'consolidated') into the neocortex. This process of consolidation is likely to occur during sleep. Originally it was thought this happens during dreaming (Marr, 1971). However, new research indicates that the NREM phase of sleep is associated with that process (Hobbson, Stickgold, Buzsaki).

Illustration of the major elements in a prototypical synapse. ... Training is the teaching of vocational or practical and relates to specific useful skills. ... Spaced repetition is a learning technique in which increasing intervals of time are used between subsequent reviews. ... Episodic memory, or autobiographical memory, is the explicit memory of events. ... The location of the hippocampus in the human brain. ... In the anatomy of animals, the neopallium or neocortex is a part of the telencephalon in the brain. ... In an ideal situation, sleep should be undisturbed and experienced in the same room every night Sleep is the regular state of natural unconsciousness observed in all mammals, birds and fish. ... The NREM (non-rapid eye movements) is a sleeping period without rapid eye movement (REM). ...


There is evidence that recall puts memories into an unstable, labile state and that, after recall, the memory must be re-consolidated or it will be forgotten. Both consolidation and reconsolidation can be disrupted by pharmacological agents (e.g. the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin) and both require the transcription factor CREB. Recent research suggests that BDNF is required for consolidation (but not reconsolidation) whereas the transcription factor and immediate early gene Zif268 is required for reconsolidation but not consolidation. Memory re-consolidation occurs upon review or repetition of the learned material. Translation in the cytoplasm; tRNA carries amino acids which are added to the growing peptide chain in the ribosome. ... Anisomycin is an antibiotic which can arrest gene expression by inhibiting protein synthesis. ... In molecular biology, a transcription factor is a protein that binds DNA at a specific promoter or enhancer region or site, where it regulates transcription. ... CREB (top) is a transcription factor capable of binding DNA (bottom) and regulating gene expression. ... Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is exactly as it states; a neurotrophic factor usually derived in the brain. ... In molecular biology, a transcription factor is a protein that binds DNA at a specific promoter or enhancer region or site, where it regulates transcription. ... Immediate early genes (IEGs) are activated transiently and rapidly in response to a wide variety of cellular stimuli. ...

Research papers of interest

  • Lee J. L., Everitt B. J., Thomas K. L. "Independent Cellular Processes for Hippocampal Memory Consolidation and Reconsolidation". Science. 2004 7 May;304(5672):839-43. Epub 2004 Apr 08
  • Pasupathy A., Miller E.K. "Different time courses of learning-related activity in the prefrontal cortex and striatum" Nature. 2005 Feb 24; 433:873-876 - evidence that the cerebral cortex learns slowly... if the CC learns slowly then this would support the idea that the hippocampus acquires memories quickly and then slowly 'trains' the CC over time.
  • D. Marr. Simple memory: a theory for archicortex. Philos.Trans.R.Soc.Lond B Biol.Sci. 262 (841):23-81, 1971.



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