Increasing plasticity in neurons of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been proposed as a possible therapeutic tool to enhance extinction, a process that is impaired in post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction. To test this hypothesis, we generated transgenic mice that overexpress neurogranin (a calmodulin-binding protein that facilitates long-term potentiation) in the PFC. Neurogranin overexpression in the PFC enhanced long-term potentiation and increased the rates of extinction learning of both fear conditioning and sucrose self-administration. Our results indicate that elevated neurogranin function within the PFC can enhance local plasticity and increase the rate of extinction learning across different behavioral tasks. Thus, neurogranin can provide a molecular link between enhanced plasticity and enhanced extinction.
Keywords: CaMKII; calmodulin; extinction; neurogranin; prefrontal cortex.
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