Repetitive replay of fear memories may precipitate the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders. Hence, the suppression of fear memory retrieval may help prevent and treat these disorders. The formation of fear memories is often linked to multiple environmental cues and these interconnected cues may act as reminders for the recall of traumatic experiences. However, as a convenience, a simple paradigm of one cue pairing with the aversive stimulus is usually used in studies of fear conditioning in animals. Here, we built a more complex fear conditioning model by presenting several environmental stimuli during fear conditioning and characterize the effectiveness of extinction training and the disruption of reconsolidation process on the expression of learned fear responses. We demonstrate that extinction training with a single-paired cue resulted in cue-specific attenuation of fear responses but responses to other cures were unchanged. The cue-specific nature of the extinction persisted despite training sessions combined with D-cycloserine treatment reveals a significant weakness in extinction-based treatment. In contrast, the inhibition of the dorsal hippocampus (DH) but not the basolateral amygdala (BLA)-dependent memory reconsolidation process using either protein synthesis inhibitors or genetic disruption of cAMP-response-element-binding protein-mediated transcription comprehensively disrupted the learned connections between fear responses and all paired environmental cues. These findings emphasize the distinct role of the DH and the BLA in the reconsolidation process of fear memories and further indicate that the disruption of memory reconsolidation process in the DH may result in generalization of fear inhibition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health