Fear memory reactivation after extinction activates plasticity in the lateral amygdala

Davies, Rebecca, Sharova, Anna V., Bergstrom, Hadley C., Ursano, Robert J., Bartlett, Selena, & Johnson, Luke R. (2015) Fear memory reactivation after extinction activates plasticity in the lateral amygdala. In Neuroscience 2015, 17-21 October 2015, Chicago, IL.

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Little is known about the neuronal changes that occur within the lateral amygdala (LA) following fear extinction. In fear extinction, the repeated presentation of a conditioned stimulus (CS), in the absence of a previously paired aversive unconditioned stimulus (US), reduces fear elicited by the CS. Fear extinction is an active learning process that leads to the formation of a consolidated extinction memory, however it is fragile and prone to spontaneous recovery and renewal under environmental changes such as context. Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying fear extinction is of great clinical relevance, as psychological treatments of several anxiety disorders rely largely on extinction-based procedures and relapse is major clinical problem. This study investigated plasticity in the LA following fear memory reactivation in rats with and without extinction training. Phosphorylated MAPK (p44/42 ERK/MAPK), a protein kinase required in the amygdala for fear learning and its extinction, was used as a marker for neuronal plasticity. Rats (N = 11) underwent a Pavlovian auditory fear conditioning and extinction paradigm, and later received a single conditioned stimulus presentation to reactivate the fear memory. Results showed more pMAPK+ expressing neurons in the LA following extinction-reactivation compared to control rats, with the largest number of pMAPK+ neurons counted in the ventral LA, especially including the ventro-lateral subdivision (LAvl). These findings indicate that LA subdivision specific plasticity occurs to the conditioned fear memory in the LAvl following extinction-reactivation. These findings provide important insight into the organisation of fear memories in the LA, and pave the way for future research in the memory mechanisms of fear extinction and its pathophysiology.

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ID Code: 88930
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Fear, Extinction, Memory, Learning
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 11 Oct 2015 23:32
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2015 23:32

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