Beta-adrenergic receptors (βARs) have long been associated with fear disorders and with learning and memory. However, the contribution of these receptors to Pavlovian fear conditioning, a leading behavioral model for studying fear learning and memory, is still poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of βAR activation in the acquisition, consolidation and expression of fear conditioning. We focused on manipulations of βARs in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA) because of the well-established contribution of this area to fear conditioning. Specifically, we tested the effects of intra-LA microinfusions of the βAR antagonist, propranolol, on learning and memory for auditory Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats. Pre-training propranolol infusions disrupted the initial acquisition, short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM) for fear conditioning, but infusions immediately after training had no effect. Further, infusion of propranolol prior to testing fear responses did not affect fear memory expression. These findings indicate that amygdala βARs are important for the acquisition but not the consolidation of fear conditioning.
Keywords: acquisition; beta-adrenergic; consolidation; fear conditioning; lateral amygdala; norepinephrine.