“That’s the most surprising finding to me, that the enhancement depends on some consolidation process we don’t yet understand,” Dr. Schacter said.

This finding raises at least as many questions as it answers. How long are items stored in the “just-in-case” mode? Are some too weak to be consolidated? Are others, which are not very relevant, also somewhat strengthened — or weakened? And do rewarding experiences enhance past details in the same way?

The TV detective would want to know, and so do the scientists. “All questions for further research,” Dr. Dunsmoor said.