Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2012 Aug 29;32(35):12076-86. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2814-12.2012.

Identification of functional circuitry between retrosplenial and postrhinal cortices during fear conditioning.

Author information

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


The retrosplenial cortex (RSP) and postrhinal cortex (POR) are heavily interconnected with medial temporal lobe structures involved in learning and memory. Previous studies indicate that RSP and POR are necessary for contextual fear conditioning, but it remains unclear whether these regions contribute individually or instead work together as a functional circuit to modulate learning and/or memory. In Experiment 1, learning-related neuronal activity was assessed in RSP from home cage, shock-only, context-only, or fear-conditioned rats using real-time PCR and immunohistochemical methods to quantify immediate-early gene expression. A significant increase in activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc) mRNA and Arc and c-Fos protein expression was detected in RSP from fear-conditioned rats compared with all other groups. In Experiment 2, retrograde tracing combined with immunohistochemistry revealed that, compared with controls, a significant proportion of cells projecting from RSP to POR were immunopositive for c-Fos in fear-conditioned rats. These results demonstrate that neurons projecting from RSP to POR are indeed active during fear conditioning. In Experiment 3, a functional disconnection paradigm was used to further examine the interaction between RSP and POR during fear conditioning. Compared with controls, rats with unilateral lesions of RSP and POR on opposite sides of the brain exhibited impaired contextual fear memory, whereas rats with unilateral lesions in the same hemisphere displayed intermediate levels of freezing compared with controls and rats with contralateral lesions. Collectively, these results are the first to show that RSP and POR function as a cortical network necessary for contextual fear learning and memory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center