Optogenetic Activation of the Infralimbic Cortex Suppresses the Return of Appetitive Pavlovian-Conditioned Responding Following Extinction

Cereb Cortex. 2018 Dec 1;28(12):4210-4221. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx275.


The infralimbic medial prefrontal cortex (IL) is important for suppressing learned behavior after extinction, but whether this function extends to responses acquired through appetitive Pavlovian conditioning is unclear. We trained male, Long-Evans rats to associate a white-noise conditional stimulus (CS; 10 s; 14 presentations per session) with 10% liquid sucrose (0.2 mL per CS presentation), and recorded entries into the fluid port during the CS. The CS was presented without sucrose in subsequent extinction and test sessions. Increasing IL activity with pretest microinfusions of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA; 0, 0.3 nmol; 0.3 μl/side) reduced the reinstatement of CS-elicited port entries. The same result was obtained when IL neurons that expressed Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) were optically stimulated during CS presentations at test (473 nm, 5 ms pulses at 20 Hz for 10.2 s, unilateral). Optical stimulation of ChR2-expressing IL neurons during CS presentations also reduced spontaneous recovery and context-induced renewal. Furthermore, optical stimulation (1) during intertrial intervals had no impact on renewal, (2) depolarized ChR2-expressing IL pyramidal neurons in vitro, and (3) preferentially increased Fos in ChR2-expressing neurons. These novel converging data highlight a critical role for the IL in suppressing the return of appetitive Pavlovian-conditioned responding following extinction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Male
  • Optogenetics
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats, Long-Evans