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Cued fear memory generalization increases over time [RESEARCH]

Fear memory is a highly stable and durable form of memory, even over vast (remote) time frames. Nevertheless, some elements of fear memory can be forgotten, resulting in generalization. The purpose of this study is to determine how cued fear memory generalizes over time and measure underlying patterns of cortico-amygdala synaptic plasticity. We established generalization gradients at recent (1-d) and remote (30-d) retention intervals following auditory cued fear conditioning in adult male C57BL/6 mice. Results revealed a flattening of the generalization gradient (increased generalization) that was dissociated from contextual fear generalization, indicating a specific influence of time on cued fear memory performance. This effect reversed after a brief exposure to the novel stimulus soon after learning. Measurements from cortico-amygdala imaging of the activity-regulated cytoskeletal Arc/arg 3.1 (Arc) protein using immunohistochemistry after cued fear memory retrieval revealed a stable pattern of Arc expression in the dorsolateral amygdala, but temporally dynamic expression in the cortex. Over time, increased fear memory generalization was associated with a reduction in Arc expression in the agranular insular and infralimbic cortices while discrimination learning was associated with increased Arc expression in the prelimbic cortex. These data identify the dorsolateral amygdala, medial prefrontal, and insular cortices as loci for synaptic plasticity underlying cued fear memory generalization over time.

Authors:   Gabrielle A. Pollack; Jessica L. Bezek; Serena H. Lee; Miranda J. Scarlata; Leah T. Weingast; Hadley C. Bergstrom
Journal:   Learning & Memory
Volume:   25
edition:   7
Year:   2018
Pages:   298
DOI:   10.1101/lm.047555.118
Publication date:   01-Jul-2018
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • cortex
  • amygdala
More about Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
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