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What is the nature of the basal nucleus of amygdala involvement in contextual fear conditioning?

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Elisa Mari Akagi Jordão
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Biociências (IBIOC/SB)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Gilberto Fernando Xavier; Newton Sabino Canteras; Antonio de Pádua Carobrez
Advisor: Gilberto Fernando Xavier

The amygdala is involved in emotional learning and memory, including fear conditioning. This brain structure includes several nuclei with distinct hodology. The basal nucleus (BA) receives processed information from the hippocampal formation. Evidence indicates that the hippocampus integrates environmental stimuli in a single representation thus rendering it involved in contextual (including spatial) learning and memory. Congruent with this hodological evidence, selective damage to the BA results in behavioral impairments similar to those found after hippocampal damage. For instance, rats with BA damage exhibit performance impairments in contextual, but not auditory, fear conditioning tasks. However, it is not clear to which extent this disruption is related to the BA involvement in either acquisition of contextual fear or retrieval of memory and fear expression, or both. This study aimed at investigating, by way of reversible inactivation of the BA, (1) its involvement in acquisition of auditory and contextual fear conditioning, and (2) the nature of its participation in contextual fear conditioning, that is, if it is necessary for building a representation about the context, for associating the context with the aversive stimulus and/or for memory retrieval and expression of contextual fear conditioning. In the first experiment, muscimol was infused into the BA before training in a concurrent auditory and contextual fear conditioning task, and testing for auditory and contextual fear conditioning was run separately in the absence of muscimol. As expected, results revealed disruption of performance in the contextual, but not in the auditory, conditioning task. In the second experiment, muscimol was infused into the BA, in independent groups of animals, before each of the three phases of a contextual fear conditioning variant that involves context pre-exposure facilitation, thus allowing to evaluate if functional reversible inactivation of the BA interfered with (1) building an integrated representation of the environment (the context), (2) its association with the aversive stimulus, and/or (3) memory retrieval and expression of fear conditioning. Results showed that muscimol infusion into BA before phase 2, but not phases 1 and 3, impaired performance in the contextual fear conditioning task. Together, these results indicate that a functional BA is required for acquisition of contextual fear conditioning in order to establish an association between the context and the aversive stimulus, but not for building a context neither for memory retrieval and expression of fear conditioned responses (AU)

FAPESP's process: 11/04820-7 - What is the nature of involvement of the amygdalas basal nucleus in contextual fear conditioning?
Grantee:Elisa Mari Akagi Jordão
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Master