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Learning to forget: manipulating extinction and reconsolidation processes to treat addiction


Finding effective long-lasting treatments for drug addiction has been an elusive goal. Consequently, researchers are beginning to investigate novel treatment strategies including manipulations of drug-associated memories. When environmental stimuli (cues) become associated with drug use, they become powerful motivators of continued drug use and relapse after abstinence. Reducing the strength of these cue–drug memories could decrease the number of factors that induce craving and relapse to aid in the treatment of addiction. Enhancing the consolidation of extinction learning and/or disrupting cue–drug memory reconsolidation are two strategies that have been proposed to reduce the strength of cues in motivating drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior. Here, we review the latest basic and clinical research elucidating the mechanisms underlying consolidation of extinction and reconsolidation of cue–drug memories in the hopes of developing pharmacological tools that exploit these signaling systems to treat addiction.

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Correspondence to Mary M. Torregrossa.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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Torregrossa, M.M., Taylor, J.R. Learning to forget: manipulating extinction and reconsolidation processes to treat addiction. Psychopharmacology 226, 659–672 (2013).

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  • Addiction
  • Extinction
  • Reconsolidation
  • Cue
  • Reinstatement
  • Memory
  • Neuroadaptation