Investigating the efficacy of the reminder-extinction procedure to disrupt contextual threat memories in humans using immersive Virtual Reality.Sci Rep. 2020 10 12; 10(1):16991.SR
Upon reactivation, consolidated memories can enter a temporary labile state and require restabilisation, known as reconsolidation. Interventions during this reconsolidation period can disrupt the reactivated memory. However, it is unclear whether different kinds of memory that depend on distinct brain regions all undergo reconsolidation. Evidence for reconsolidation originates from studies assessing amygdala-dependent memories using cue-conditioning paradigms in rodents, which were subsequently replicated in humans. Whilst studies providing evidence for reconsolidation of hippocampus-dependent memories in rodents have predominantly used context conditioning paradigms, studies in humans have used completely different paradigms such as tests for wordlists or stories. Here our objective was to bridge this paradigm gap between rodent and human studies probing reconsolidation of hippocampus-dependent memories. We modified a recently developed immersive Virtual Reality paradigm to test in humans whether contextual threat-conditioned memories can be disrupted by a reminder-extinction procedure that putatively targets reconsolidation. In contrast to our hypothesis, we found comparable recovery of contextual conditioned threat responses, and comparable retention of subjective measures of threat memory, episodic memory and exploration behaviour between the reminder-extinction and standard extinction groups. Our result provide no evidence that a reminder before extinction can prevent the return of context conditioned threat memories in humans.