Distinguishing threatening from nonthreatening stimuli is essential for survival and stimulus generalization is a hallmark of anxiety disorders. While auditory threat learning produces long-lasting plasticity in primary auditory cortex (Au1), it is not clear whether such Au1 plasticity regulates memory specificity or generalization. We used muscimol infusions in rats to show that discriminatory threat learning requires Au1 activity specifically during memory acquisition and retrieval, but not during consolidation. Memory specificity was similarly disrupted by infusion of PKMζ inhibitor peptide (ZIP) during memory storage. Our findings show that Au1 is required at critical memory phases and suggest that Au1 plasticity enables stimulus discrimination.
© 2016 Wigestrand et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.