Pharmacological Disruption of Maladaptive Memory

  • Jane R. Taylor
  • Mary M. Torregrossa
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 228)


Many psychiatric disorders are characterized by intrusive, distracting, and disturbing memories that either perpetuate the illness or hinder successful treatment. For example, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) involves such strong reemergence of memories associated with a traumatic event that the individual feels like the event is happening again. Furthermore, drug addiction is characterized by compulsive use and repeated relapse that is often driven by internal memories of drug use and/or by exposure to external stimuli that were associated with drug use. Therefore, identifying pharmacological methods to weaken the strength of maladaptive memories is a major goal of research efforts aimed at finding new treatments for these disorders. The primary mechanism by which memories could be pharmacologically disrupted or altered is through manipulation of memory reconsolidation. Reconsolidation occurs when an established memory is remembered or reactivated, reentering a labile state before again being consolidated into long-term memory storage. Memories are subject to disruption during this labile state. In this chapter we will discuss the preclinical and clinical studies identifying potential pharmacological methods for disrupting the integrity of maladaptive memory to treat mental illness.


Maladaptive memory Reconsolidation Posttraumatic stress disorder Addictive disorders Memory-disrupting drugs 



We would like to thank those individuals who worked with us in our studies of memory reconsolidation and thank our funding sources from the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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