A role for anterior thalamic nuclei in contextual fear memory

A. Marchand, A. Faugère, E. Coutureau, M. Wolff
Brain Struct Funct. 2013-06-04; 219(5): 1575-1586
DOI: 10.1007/s00429-013-0586-7

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1. Brain Struct Funct. 2014 Sep;219(5):1575-86. doi: 10.1007/s00429-013-0586-7. Epub
2013 Jun 4.

A role for anterior thalamic nuclei in contextual fear memory.

Marchand A(1), Faugère A, Coutureau E, Wolff M.

Author information:
(1)CNRS, Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d’Aquitaine
(INCIA), UMR 5287, Avenue des Facultés, 33405, Talence, Cedex, France.

Understanding the neural processes that govern the attribution of a predictive
value to environmental stimuli is a major issue in behavioural neuroscience. The
main strategy to explore this question has been the use of Pavlovian fear
conditioning paradigms. While a majority of studies have focussed on the specific
role of the hippocampus and amygdala in contextual versus cued fear, very few
studies examined the potential role of subcortical limbic areas. Among those, the
anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) connect to both the hippocampus and the amygdala
and also to the cingulate region which is known to support fear-related activity.
Here, we show that rats sustaining ATN lesions exhibit a specific impairment
following context but not tone conditioning. ATN lesions slowed down acquisition
without preventing normal freezing behaviour when rats were reexposed to the
conditioning context 24 h later. However, ATN rats exhibited poor retrieval of
contextual but not cued fear when assessed 3 weeks after conditioning. In
addition, extinction was faster in ATN rats and spontaneous recovery of
contextual fear was impaired by the lesions. These deficits indicate that
contextual fear memories established in the absence of the ATN are not robust.
Collectively, these findings support an involvement of the ATN in the circuits
underlying contextual fear memory.

DOI: 10.1007/s00429-013-0586-7
PMID: 23733176 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus