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Neuroscience. 2008 Apr 22;153(1):84-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.02.013. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

The indirect amygdala-dorsal striatum pathway mediates conditioned freezing: insights on emotional memory networks.

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  • 1Department of Psychobiology, Federal University of São Paulo, Rua Napoleão de Barros, 925, CEP 04024-002, São Paulo, Brazil.


The dorsal striatum (DS) is involved in various forms of learning and memory such as procedural learning, habit learning, reward-association and emotional learning. We have previously reported that bilateral DS lesions disrupt tone fear conditioning (TFC), but not contextual fear conditioning (CFC) [Ferreira TL, Moreira KM, Ikeda DC, Bueno OFA, Oliveira MGM (2003) Effects of dorsal striatum lesions in tone fear conditioning and contextual fear conditioning. Brain Res 987:17-24]. To further elucidate the participation of DS in emotional learning, in the present study, we investigated the effects of bilateral pretest (postraining) electrolytic DS lesions on TFC. Given the well-acknowledged role of the amygdala in emotional learning, we also examined a possible cooperation between DS and the amygdala in TFC, by using asymmetrical electrolytic lesions, consisting of a unilateral lesion of the central amygdaloid nucleus (CeA) combined to a contralateral DS lesion. The results show that pre-test bilateral DS lesions disrupt TFC responses, suggesting that DS plays a role in the expression of TFC. More importantly, rats with asymmetrical pre-training lesions were impaired in TFC, but not in CFC tasks. This result was confirmed with muscimol asymmetrical microinjections in DS and CeA, which reversibly inactivate these structures. On the other hand, similar pretest lesions as well as unilateral electrolytic lesions of CeA and DS in the same hemisphere did not affect TFC. Possible anatomical substrates underlying the observed effects are proposed. Overall, the present results underscore that other routes, aside from the well-established CeA projections to the periaqueductal gray, may contribute to the acquisition/consolidation of the freezing response associated to a TFC task. It is suggested that CeA may presumably influence DS processing via a synaptic relay on dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra compacta and retrorubral nucleus. The present observations are also in line with other studies showing that TFC and CFC responses are mediated by different anatomical networks.

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