Biphasic ERK1/2 activation in both the hippocampus and amygdala may reveal a system consolidation of contextual fear memory

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2007 Nov;88(4):424-34. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2007.05.004. Epub 2007 Jul 5.


There is accumulating evidences to suggest that memory consolidation in some conditions involves two waves of neuronal plastic change. Using two fear conditioning procedures in male C57BL/6J mice, we have recently shown that consolidation of the foreground contextual fear memory required two waves of ERK1/2 activation in hippocampal CA1, while consolidation of cue conditioning was only associated with the early phase of activation. The present experiment further showed that this bi-phasic pattern of ERK1/2 activation was not restricted to hippocampal CA1, but could also be observed in other fear memory-related brain areas. The unpaired conditioning procedure (context in foreground) induced two waves of ERK1/2 activation in hippocampal CA1 and CA3, as well as in the LA and BLA nuclei of the amygdala. In contrast, the paired conditioning procedure (context in background) led to a transient early phase only in hippocampal CA1 and LA. In addition, ERK1/2 phosphorylation in the hippocampus was found to correlate with that in the amygdala nuclei specifically after the unpaired procedure. Taken together, our data suggest that the observed biphasic pattern of neuronal plastic events may reflect the interplay between hippocampal and amygdala activity-dependent plasticity critical for the system consolidation of contextual fear memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / enzymology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Fear
  • Hippocampus / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors


  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3