Encoding of Discriminative Fear Memory by Input-Specific LTP in the Amygdala

Neuron. 2017 Aug 30;95(5):1129-1146.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.08.004. Epub 2017 Aug 17.


In auditory fear conditioning, experimental subjects learn to associate an auditory conditioned stimulus (CS) with an aversive unconditioned stimulus. With sufficient training, animals fear conditioned to an auditory CS show fear response to the CS, but not to irrelevant auditory stimuli. Although long-term potentiation (LTP) in the lateral amygdala (LA) plays an essential role in auditory fear conditioning, it is unknown whether LTP is induced selectively in the neural pathways conveying specific CS information to the LA in discriminative fear learning. Here, we show that postsynaptically expressed LTP is induced selectively in the CS-specific auditory pathways to the LA in a mouse model of auditory discriminative fear conditioning. Moreover, optogenetically induced depotentiation of the CS-specific auditory pathways to the LA suppressed conditioned fear responses to the CS. Our results suggest that input-specific LTP in the LA contributes to fear memory specificity, enabling adaptive fear responses only to the relevant sensory cue. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Keywords: amygdala; depotentiation; electrophysiology; engram; fear conditioning; fear extinction; learning and memory; long-term potentiation; neuromodulation; optogenetics.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic