Male C57BL/6N mice were chosen to determine Fos production during acquisition of context-dependent fear and after re-exposure to the conditioning context. Fear-conditioning was induced by a single exposure of mice to a context followed by an electric shock. Control groups consisted of mice exposed to context only (Context group) or to an immediate electric shock. When contextual retention was measured 24 h after conditioning (retention test 1), significant contextual generalization was observed. However, when animals were exposed to a different context from days 2-5 after conditioning and then tested for retention on day 6 (retention test 2), generalization was markedly reduced. After the training, the fear-conditioned mice produced higher Fos levels than mice exposed to an immediate shock in the hippocampus, medial amygdaloid nucleus and parietal somatosensory cortex. Both shock groups produced significantly more Fos than the Context group in the central nucleus of the amygdala. After retention test 1, fear-conditioned mice generated more Fos in the hippocampus and central amygdaloid nucleus than the two control groups. However, all groups exhibited similarly low Fos production after retention test 2. The results demonstrated that simultaneous Fos production in the hippocampus, central and medial nuclei of amygdala and somatosensory parietal cortex closely paralleled the ability of mice to acquire conditioned fear. In contrast, Fos production after the retention tests did not correlate with the expression of conditioned fear.
Copyright 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.