Post-training unilateral amygdala lesions selectively impair contextual fear memories.

Charlotte Law, Jonathan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The basolateral amygdala (BLA) and the dorsal hippocampus (dHPC) are both structures with key roles in contextual fear conditioning. During fear conditioning, it is postulated that contextual representations of the environment are formed in the hippocampus, which are then associated with foot shock in the amygdala. However, it is not known to what extent a functional connection between these two structures is required. This study investigated the effect on contextual and cued fear conditioning of disconnecting the BLA and dHPC, using asymmetrically placed, excitotoxic unilateral lesions. Post-training lesions selectively impaired contextual, but not cued, fear, while pretraining lesions resulted in a similar but nonsignificant pattern of results. This effect was unexpectedly observed in both the contralateral disconnection group and the anticipated ipsilateral control, which prompted further examination of individual unilateral lesions of BLA and dHPC. Post-training unilateral dHPC lesions had no effect on contextual fear memories while bilateral dHPC lesions and unilateral BLA lesions resulted in a near total abolition of contextual fear but not cued conditioned fear. Again, pretraining unilateral BLA lesions resulted in a strong but nonsignificant trend to the impairment of contextual fear. Furthermore, an analysis of context test-induced Fos protein expression in the BLA contralateral to the lesion site revealed no differences between post-training SHAM and unilateral BLA lesioned animals. Therefore, post-training unilateral lesions of the BLA are sufficient to severely impair contextual, but not cued, fear memories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-263
JournalLearning & Memory
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


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