The amygdala, fear, and memory

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Apr;985:125-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2003.tb07077.x.


Lesions of the frontotemporal region of the amygdala, which includes lateral and basal nuclei, cause a loss of conditional fear responses, such as freezing, even when the lesions are made over a year and a half from the original training. These amygdala-damaged animals are not hyperactive and show normal reactivity to strong stimuli such as bright lights. After receiving tone-mild shock pairings rats normally display an appropriately weak response when exposed to the tone. Rats' fear of the tone can be inflated by giving them exposure to strong shocks in the absence of the tone between training and testing. This inflation of fear memory is abolished if the frontotemporal amygdala is inactivated by muscimol only during the inflation treatment with strong shocks. Based on such findings we suggest that the frontotemporal amygdala permanently encodes a memory for the hedonic value of the aversive stimulus used to condition fear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia, Retrograde / physiopathology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Animal