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Neuron. 2002 Apr 11;34(2):289-300.

Fear conditioning occludes LTP-induced presynaptic enhancement of synaptic transmission in the cortical pathway to the lateral amygdala.

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McLean Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


Auditory information critical for fear conditioning, a model of emotional learning, is conveyed to the lateral nucleus of the amygdala via two routes: directly from the medial geniculate nucleus and indirectly from the auditory cortex. Here we show in the cortico-amygdala pathway that learned fear occludes electrically induced long-term potentiation (LTP). Quantal analysis of the expression of LTP in this pathway reveals a significant presynaptic component reflected in an increase in probability of transmitter release. Conditioned fear also is accompanied by the enhancement in transmitter release at this cortico-amygdala synapse. These results indicate that the synaptic projections from the auditory cortex to the lateral amygdala are modified during the acquisition and expression of fear to auditory stimulation, thus further strengthening the proposed link between LTP in the auditory pathways to the amygdala and learned fear.

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