A novel method to trigger the reconsolidation of fear memory.Behav Res Ther. 2019 11; 122:103461.BR
The procedure of memory reconsolidation provides an opportunity to improve some mental disorders caused by maladaptive memories, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Prediction error was considered a necessary condition for triggering memory reconsolidation. However, it is difficult to create a satisfying prediction error to successfully open memory reconsolidation in a clinical context. The purpose of this study was to explore a more practicable method to trigger memory reconsolidation. We used a successive 4-day fear-potentiated startle paradigm to compare the effect of uncertainty with prediction error during retrieval on preventing the return of fear. Bayes factor, combined with p value and effect size, was used as the main indicator of statistical inference. The results indicated that spontaneous recovery and reinstatement of fear were not observed in the uncertainty group, whereas return of fear was observed for the prediction error group. However, the direct comparison between the two groups did not yield statistically significant results, potentially reflecting a lack of statistical power. Nonetheless, these results suggest that uncertainty retrieval could be a better means to trigger memory reconsolidation than prediction error, making uncertainty a worthwhile factor to consider in future research on memory reconsolidation.