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Bringing very long term memories back to life

Abstract : Memory plays tricks on us and fails us even for recent events. So for the retrieval of sensory information that we have not experienced for decades, surely the memories are gone without a trace, but can we be sure of this? What if the information had been there all along ready to be explicitly retrieved through recall or familiarity for example? So far, experimental evidence is lacking. The purpose of my thesis was to shed some light on the retrieval of these inactive memories. To tackle this problem I developed my research around two main axes: For the first part which is theoretical, I suggest that a) reactivations are not necessary to maintain very long-term memories if the memories were sufficiently repeated at first; b) it might be possible to retrieve explicitly remote inactive memories using specific cues; in the second part which is experimental, I show that a) within specific conditions participants are able to retrieve explicitly very long-term memories that were left inactive for decades and b) such memory traces could be found on the Electroencephalography (EEG) signals. Surprisingly, when conditions are met, remote memories that were thought to be lost can again elicit recall or familiarity. With these results, a question remains: How do neurons store such information?
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Christelle Larzabal. Bringing very long term memories back to life. Human health and pathology. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017TOU30179⟩. ⟨tel-01989938⟩

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