Fear-potentiated startle and electrically evoked startle mediated by synapses in rostrolateral midbrain

Behav Neurosci. 1995 Aug;109(4):669-80. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.109.4.669.


Startle amplitudes are increased when acoustic startle responses are elicited in the presence of a stimulus that has previously been paired with shock. This "fear-potentiated" startle response appears to be mediated via the caudal ventral amygdalofugal pathway to the brainstem. Electrical stimulation of this pathway evokes unconditioned startlelike responses. Collision tests have shown that a monosynaptic connection from amygdala to midbrain mediates these responses. Collision tests here localize these synapses mediating electrically evoked startlelike responses to the rostrolateral midbrain in awake rats. To test whether rostrolateral midbrain synapses also mediate fear-potentiated startle, we lesioned cells in these sites with ibotenic acid. These lesions completely blocked fear potentiation of acoustic startle. These same lesions did not block potentiation of startle by d-amphetamine (6 mg/kg).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology