Lesions of the central nucleus of the amygdala block conditioned excitation, but not conditioned inhibition of fear as measured with the fear-potentiated startle effect

Behav Neurosci. 1995 Jun;109(3):379-87. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.109.3.379.


Lesions of the amygdala block the expression of fear-potentiated startle following either moderate or extensive light + shock training. The present experiment assessed whether lesions of the amygdala would also block the expression of conditioned inhibition of fear. Rats were given conditioned inhibition training in which a light was paired with shock and a noise and light compound was presented in the absence of shock. Then half of the rats were given bilateral electrolytic lesions of the amygdala and the remaining rats were sham operated. Lesions of the amygdala blocked the expression of fear-potentiated startle to the light. To assess whether conditioned inhibition was disrupted, rats were retrained with light + shock pairings with no further conditioned inhibition training. Amygdala lesioned rats reacquired fear-potentiated startle to the light (Kim & Davis, 1993). Importantly, the noise conditioned inhibitor retained its ability to inhibit fear-potentiated startle to the retrained light. These results indicate that areas of the amygdala critical for initial performance of fear-potentiated startle are not critical for the expression of conditioned inhibition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Electroshock
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*