Inhibition of the mesoamygdala dopaminergic pathway impairs the retrieval of conditioned fear associations

Behav Neurosci. 1999 Oct;113(5):891-901. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.113.5.891.


Previous findings have demonstrated that systemic dopaminergic manipulations impair the retrieval of Pavlovian conditioned fear. A second-order fear-conditioning paradigm was used to test whether the dopaminergic projection from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the lateral and basal amygdala (LBA) can affect conditioned fear. Phase 1 entailed conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus (CS1-US) pairings. In Phase 2, drugs were infused in either the LBA or VTA prior to pairings of CS2 (a second cue) with CS1. In Phase 3, freezing behavior elicited by CS2 was tested without drugs. Infusions of the D2 agonist quinpirole into the VTA or of the D1 antagonist SCH 23390 into the LBA caused a decrease in freezing to CS2. Both manipulations decrease D1 receptor activation in the LBA. Infusions of the D1 agonist SKF 38393 into the LBA had no effect. This pattern of results is consistent with the hypothesis that the VTA-LBA dopaminergic projection modulates the retrieval of an association between a CS and footshock US.

MeSH terms

  • 2,3,4,5-Tetrahydro-7,8-dihydroxy-1-phenyl-1H-3-benzazepine / pharmacology
  • Amygdala / drug effects*
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Fear / drug effects*
  • Fear / physiology
  • Male
  • Quinpirole / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / physiology
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / drug effects
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / physiology


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Quinpirole
  • 2,3,4,5-Tetrahydro-7,8-dihydroxy-1-phenyl-1H-3-benzazepine