Memory formation, consolidation and transformation

L. Nadel, A. Hupbach, R. Gomez, K. Newman-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Memory formation is a highly dynamic process. In this review we discuss traditional views of memory and offer some ideas about the nature of memory formation and transformation. We argue that memory traces are transformed over time in a number of ways, but that understanding these transformations requires careful analysis of the various representations and linkages that result from an experience. These transformations can involve: (1) the selective strengthening of only some, but not all, traces as a function of synaptic rescaling, or some other process that can result in selective survival of some traces; (2) the integration (or assimilation) of new information into existing knowledge stores; (3) the establishment of new linkages within existing knowledge stores; and (4) the up-dating of an existing episodic memory. We relate these ideas to our own work on reconsolidation to provide some grounding to our speculations that we hope will spark some new thinking in an area that is in need of transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1640-1645
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Memory consolidation
  • Reconsolidation
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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