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J Neurosci. 2011 Jun 29;31(26):9538-43. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5808-10.2011.

Sensory-specific associations stored in the lateral amygdala allow for selective alteration of fear memories.

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Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York 10003, USA.


Consolidated long-term fear memories become labile and can be disrupted after being reactivated by the presentation of the unconditioned stimulus (US). Whether this is due to an alteration of the conditioned stimulus (CS) representation in the lateral amygdala (LA) is not known. Here, we show in rats that fear memory reactivation through presentation of the aversive US, like CS presentation, triggers a process which, when disrupted, results in a selective depotentiation of CS-evoked neural responses in the LA in correlation with a selective suppression of CS-elicited fear memory. Thus, an aversive US triggers the reconsolidation of its associated predictor representation in LA. This new finding suggests that sensory-specific associations are stored in the lateral amygdala, allowing for their selective alteration by either element of the association.

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