Retrograde abolition of conditional fear after excitotoxic lesions in the basolateral amygdala of rats: absence of a temporal gradient

Behav Neurosci. 1996 Aug;110(4):718-26. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.110.4.718.


The role of the basolateral amygdala (LA) in the acquisition and expression of Pavlovian fear conditioning was examined in 80 rats. Excitotoxic lesions were made in the BLA using N-methyl-D-aspartate 7 days before or 1, 14, or 28 days after Pavlovian fear conditioning. Conditioning consisted of three pairings of a tone with an aversive footshock in a novel chamber, and freezing behavior served as an index of conditional fear. BLA lesions abolished conditional freezing to both the contextual and acoustic conditional stimuli at all training-to-lesion intervals, and the magnitude of the impairment did not vary as a function of the training-to-lesion interval. Reacquisition training elevated levels of freezing in rats with BLA lesions but did not reduce the magnitude of their deficit in relation to that of controls. These results reveal that neurons in the BLA have an enduring role in the expression of conditional fear.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • N-Methylaspartate / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Retrograde Degeneration / physiology*


  • N-Methylaspartate