Long-term potentiation in the amygdala: a cellular mechanism of fear learning and memory

Neuropharmacology. 2007 Jan;52(1):215-27. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2006.06.022. Epub 2006 Aug 21.


Much of the research on long-term potentiation (LTP) is motivated by the question of whether changes in synaptic strength similar to LTP underlie learning and memory. Here we discuss findings from studies on fear conditioning, a form of associative learning whose neural circuitry is relatively well understood, that may be particularly suited for addressing this question. We first review the evidence suggesting that fear conditioning is mediated by changes in synaptic strength at sensory inputs to the lateral nucleus of the amygdala. We then discuss several outstanding questions that will be important for future research on the role of synaptic plasticity in fear learning. The results gained from these studies may shed light not only on fear conditioning, but may also help unravel more general cellular mechanisms of learning and memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Fear*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology