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Front Behav Neurosci. 2012 Jun 21;6:34. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2012.00034. eCollection 2012.

Pre-synaptic control of remote fear extinction in the neocortex.

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  • 1CNR-National Research Council of Italy, Cell Biology and Neurobiology Institute Rome, Italy.


Consolidation of remote memory enhances immediate early genes induction (IEGs), augments the expression of the pre-synaptic growth associated protein-43 (GAP-43), and increases the density and size of dendritic spines in anterior cingulate (aCC) and infra-limbic (ILC) cortices. Remote memory extinction, however, does not uniformly alter consolidation-induced structural changes. In the aCC, the density, but not the size, of spines is reset to pseudo-conditioning levels while novel thin spines are formed in the ILC. Whether IEGs and GAP-43 also undergo region-specific changes upon remote memory extinction is undetermined. Here we confirm in the same batch of mice that c-Fos induction and GAP-43 expression are increased in both the aCC and the ILC 36 days after contextual fear conditioning. We then show that, in both regions, remote memory extinction is associated with decrease of c-Fos induction but no change in GAP-43 expression thus revealing similar, although protein-specific, pre-synaptic adaptations in aCC and ILC neurons. These observations, in addition to our previous report of region-specific post-synaptic structural changes, disclose a complex pattern of extinction-driven neocortical alterations suitable to support erasure or reinstatement of fear according to the environment demand.


GAP-43; anterior cingulate cortex; c-Fos; infra-limbic cortex; remote fear consolidation; remote fear extinction

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