Differential contribution of dorsal and ventral medial prefrontal cortex to the acquisition and extinction of conditioned fear in rats

Behav Neurosci. 1995 Aug;109(4):681-8. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.109.4.681.


The emotional reactivity of rats with lesions of the dorsal portion of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) was examined using a classical fear conditioning paradigm. Conditioned fear behavior (freezing responses) was measured during both the acquisition and extinction phases of the task. Lesions enhanced fear reactivity to both the conditioned stimulus (CS) and contextual stimuli during both phases, suggesting that dorsal mPFC lesions produce a general increase in fear reactivity in response to fear conditioning. M. A. Morgan, L. M. Romanski, and J. E. LeDoux (1993) found that lesions just ventral to the present lesions had no effect during acquisition of the same task and prolonged the fear response to the CS (but not the context) during extinction. Thus, both dorsal and ventral regions of mPFC are involved in the fear system, but each modulates different aspects of fear responsivity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Social Environment