The NMDA agonist D-cycloserine facilitates fear memory consolidation in humans

Cereb Cortex. 2009 Jan;19(1):187-96. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn076. Epub 2008 May 13.


Animal research suggests that the consolidation of fear and extinction memories depends on N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors. Using a fear conditioning and extinction paradigm in healthy normal volunteers, we show that postlearning administration of the NMDA partial agonist D-cycloserine (DCS) facilitates fear memory consolidation, evidenced behaviorally by enhanced skin conductance responses, relative to placebo, for presentations of a conditioned stimulus (CS) at a memory test performed 72 h later. DCS also enhanced CS-evoked neural responses in a posterior hippocampus/collateral sulcus region and in the medial prefrontal cortex at test. Our data suggest a role for NMDA receptors in regulating fear memory consolidation in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Cycloserine / administration & dosage*
  • Fear / drug effects
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • N-Methylaspartate / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / agonists*


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Cycloserine