New paper on attempted replication of human reconsolidation effects

In a new paper published in PNAS (Hardwicke et al., 2016) we report a number of attempts to replicate a previous demonstration of reconsolidation-mediated memory updating in human participants. Here is the key figure, showing the we did not observe reconsolidation effects in four direct replication attempts.

Reconsolidation figure

Here is a brief summary of the paper:

Reconsolidation-updating theory suggests that existing memory traces can be modified, or even erased, by post-retrieval new learning. Compelling empirical support for this claim could have profound theoretical, clinical, and ethical implications. However, demonstrating reconsolidation-mediated memory updating in humans has proved particularly challenging. In four direct and three conceptual replication attempts of a prominent human reconsolidation study, we did not observe any reconsolidation effects when testing either procedural or declarative recall of sequence knowledge. These findings suggest that the considerable theoretical weight attributed to the original study is unwarranted and that post-retrieval new learning does not reliably induce human memory updating via reconsolidation.

Hardwicke, T. E., Mahdi, T., & Shanks, D. R. (2016). Post-retrieval new learning does not reliably induce human memory updating via reconsolidation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, 5206-5211. [doi] [osf] [pdf]