Temporary inactivation of the medial and basolateral amygdala differentially affects TMT-induced fear behavior in rats

Behav Brain Res. 2006 Feb 15;167(1):57-62. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2005.08.016. Epub 2005 Oct 6.


Trimethylthiazoline (TMT) is a component of fox feces and is thought to be a stimulus with innate fear-eliciting properties for rodents. Naive laboratory rats that are exposed to TMT display freezing behavior, a known behavioral sign of fear and anxiety. Early studies examining the neural basis of TMT-induced fear showed that the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis is important for this behavior. In contrast, the central and lateral nuclei of the amygdala does not seem to participate in the neural processing of TMT-induced fear. However, a study investigating c-fos expression in response to TMT-exposure revealed a strong activation of the medial as well as a weak activation of the basolateral amygdala. Therefore, the present study examined the effects of temporary inactivation of the medial and basolateral amygdala on TMT-induced freezing. Temporary inactivation was accomplished by local injections of the GABA(A) receptor agonist muscimol into the areas of interest. TMT-induced freezing was completely blocked by temporary inactivation of the medial amygdala. Temporary inactivation of the basolateral amygdala resulted in a delay of the onset of the freezing response to TMT. These results clearly demonstrate that the medial amygdala is crucial for TMT-induced freezing, whereas the basolateral amygdala seems to play a modulatory role in this type of fear behavior. Since the medial amygdala is also involved in the processing of cat odor-induced fear, the finding of the present study points towards a general role of the medial amygdala in the processing of predator odor-induced fear.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / drug effects*
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fear / drug effects*
  • Freezing Reaction, Cataleptic / drug effects
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Odorants*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thiazoles / administration & dosage*


  • 2,4,5 trimethylthiazoline
  • GABA Agonists
  • Thiazoles
  • Muscimol