Amygdala Inhibitory Circuits Regulate Associative Fear Conditioning

Biol Psychiatry. 2018 May 15;83(10):800-809. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.10.006. Epub 2017 Oct 14.


Associative memory formation is essential for an animal's survival by ensuring adaptive behavioral responses in an ever-changing environment. This is particularly important under conditions of immediate threats such as in fear learning. One of the key brain regions involved in associative fear learning is the amygdala. The basolateral amygdala is the main entry site for sensory information to the amygdala complex, and local plasticity in excitatory basolateral amygdala principal neurons is considered to be crucial for learning of conditioned fear responses. However, activity and plasticity of excitatory circuits are tightly controlled by local inhibitory interneurons in a spatially and temporally defined manner. In this review, we provide an updated view on how distinct interneuron subtypes in the basolateral amygdala contribute to the acquisition and extinction of conditioned fear memories.

Keywords: Amygdala; Extinction; Fear learning; Interneuron; Neuronal circuits; Plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*