Fear conditioning is a model system used to study threat responses, fear memory and their dysregulation in a variety of organisms. Newly developed tools such as optogenetics, Cre recombinase and DREADD technologies have allowed researchers to manipulate anatomically or molecularly defined cell subtypes with a high degree of temporal control and determine the effect of this manipulation on behavior. These targeted molecular techniques have opened up a new appreciation for the critical contributions different subpopulations of cells make to fear behavior and potentially to treatment of fear and anxiety disorders. Here we review progress to date across a variety of techniques to understand fear-related behavior through the manipulation of different cell subtypes within the amygdala.
Keywords: amygdala; cell subtype manipulation; fear conditioning; fear extinction.
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