Normal conditioned inhibition and extinction of freezing and fear-potentiated startle following electrolytic lesions of medical prefrontal cortex in rats

Behav Neurosci. 1997 Aug;111(4):712-26. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.111.4.712.


The authors investigated the role of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in the inhibition of conditioned fear in rats using both Pavlovian extinction and conditioned inhibition paradigms. In Experiment 1, lesions of ventral mPFC did not interfere with conditioned inhibition of the fear-potentiated startle response. In Experiment 2, lesions made after acquisition of fear conditioning did not retard extinction of fear to a visual conditioned stimulus (CS) and did not impair "reinstatement" of fear after unsignaled presentations of the unconditioned stimulus. In Experiment 3, lesions made before fear conditioning did not retard extinction of fear-potentiated startle or freezing to an auditory CS. In both Experiments 2 and 3, extinction of fear to contextual cues was also unaffected by the lesions. These results indicate that ventral mPFC is not essential for the inhibition of fear under a variety of circumstances.

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

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*