The amnesia gradient: inadequate as evidence for a memory consolidation process

Science  22 Oct 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4263, pp. 438-440
DOI: 10.1126/science.988635


Rats were conditioned to fear a tone paired with shock to the feet. Retention tests 4 days later showed that consolidation had occurred. Other animals were not tested for retention at 4 days, but the tone was presented in order to reactivate their memories of the conditioning. An amnesia gradient was generated by low-intensity electrical stimulation of the amygdaloid complex at different intervals after the tone, but stimulation was without effect either when given to rats not previously conditioned or when given to conditioned rats without preceding memory reactivation. Thus, stimulation of the amygdaloid complex can can affect memory retrieval. Moreover, the data call into question the assumption that an amnesia gradient indicates that the memory consolidation process has been modified.