A selective role for corticosterone in contextual-fear conditioning

Behav Neurosci. 1997 Jun;111(3):503-11.


The contribution of corticosterone to contextual- and auditory-cue fear conditioning was examined. Adrenalectomized rats showed reduced contextual-fear conditioning when tested 24 hr after conditioning; however, neither immediate contextual- nor auditory-cue fear conditioning was impaired. Contextual-fear conditioning in adrenalectomized rats with corticosterone replacement during the 4-day interval separating surgery and conditioning matched the level of controls. Moreover, rats exposed to the context prior to adrenalectomy showed normal long-term contextual-fear conditioning. Corticosterone replacement administered after the conditioning episode also negated the effects of adrenalectomy. Thus, corticosterone's role in fear conditioning is selective: It appears to contribute to the neural processes that support the consolidation of a long-term memory representation of the context.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adrenalectomy
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Corticosterone / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Rats
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology


  • Corticosterone