Dissociable effects of hippocampus lesions on expression of fear and trace fear conditioning memories in rats

Michael A. Burman, Mark J. Starr, Jonathan C. Gewirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of the hippocampus in memory is commonly investigated by comparing fear conditioning paradigms that differ in their reliance on the hippocampus. For example, the dorsal (septal) portion of the hippocampus is involved in trace, but not delay fear conditioning, two Pavlovian paradigms in which only the relative timing of stimulus presentation is varied. However, a growing literature implicates the ventral (temporal) portion of the hippocampus in the expression of fear, irrespective of prior training. The current experiments evaluated the relative contributions of the dorsal and ventral portions of the hippocampus to trace fear conditioning specifically vs. the expression of conditioned fear in general. Lesions restricted to the dorsal hippocampus blocked acquisition of trace fear conditioning. Larger lesions, also including an adjacent portion of the ventral hippocampus, were required to impair retrieval of trace fear conditioning. Delay fear conditioning was not disrupted in either case. In contrast, lesions that encompassed almost the entire dorsal and ventral hippocampus disrupted expression of both trace and delay fear conditioning. The current data suggest distinct roles in fear conditioning for three regions of the hippocampus: the septal zone is required for acquisition of trace fear conditioning, a larger portion of the hippocampus is critical for memory retrieval, and a region including the temporal zone is required for expression of both trace and delay fear conditioning. These findings are consistent with evidence suggesting the neuroanatomical and functional segregation of the hippocampus into three zones along its septal-temporal axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalHippocampus
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

Keywords

  • Amygdala
  • Anxiety
  • Startle

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