Impairment of aversive memory reconsolidation by localized intracranial electrical stimulation

Jimmy Stehberg, Dino Levy, Abraham Zangen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Reconsolidation of long-term memory is blocked in animal models by macromolecular synthesis inhibitors, resulting in item-specific post-retrieval amnesia. The induction of such amnesia could ameliorate traumatic memories and phobias. However, this pharmacological approach is of limited value in humans because of toxicity. Here we report that reconsolidation of conditioned taste aversion in the rat is impaired by localized intracranial electrical stimulation. Lasting impairment was obtained only when stimulation was applied during memory reactivation and only to the dysgranular insular cortex bilaterally, which subserves the memory, but not to adjacent brain sites. The ability to learn a new association was not affected. The same method blocked new memory consolidation, but produced anterograde amnesia, reminiscent of the known effect of non-localized electroconvulsive therapy. Our results suggest that localized electrical microstimulation, such as produced by deep-brain stimulation or deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, could be used to impair long-term memory if applied during memory reactivation, and could lead to the development of a novel treatment for intractable post-traumatic stress disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)964-969
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • CTA memory
  • Consolidation
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Rats
  • Reconsolidation
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Impairment of aversive memory reconsolidation by localized intracranial electrical stimulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this