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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2010 May;93(4):479-86. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2010.01.005. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

Evidence for the thalamic targets of the medial hypothalamic defensive system mediating emotional memory to predatory threats.

Author information

1
Dept. Anatomy, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP 05508-000, Brazil.

Abstract

Previous studies from our laboratory have documented that the medial hypothalamic defensive system is critically involved in processing actual and contextual predatory threats, and that the dorsal premammillary nucleus (PMd) represents the hypothalamic site most responsive to predatory threats. Anatomical findings suggest that the PMd is in a position to modulate memory processing through a projecting branch to specific thalamic nuclei, i.e., the nucleus reuniens (RE) and the ventral part of the anteromedial nucleus (AMv). In the present study, we investigated the role of these thalamic targets in both unconditioned (i.e., fear responses to predatory threat) and conditioned (i.e., contextual responses to predator-related cues) defensive behaviors. During cat exposure, all experimental groups exhibited intense defensive responses with the animals spending most of the time in the home cage displaying freezing behavior. However, during exposure to the environment previously associated with a cat, the animals with combined RE+AMv lesions, and to a lesser degree, animals with single AMv unilateral lesions, but not animals with single RE lesions, presented a reduction of contextual conditioned defensive responses. Overall, the present results provide clear evidence suggesting that the PMd's main thalamic targets (i.e., the nucleus reuniens and the AMv) seem to be critically involved in the emotional memory processing related to predator cues.

PMID:
20096798
DOI:
10.1016/j.nlm.2010.01.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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