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Behav Brain Res. 2015 Jan 15;277:68-77. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2014.07.028. Epub 2014 Jul 29.

Serotonin in fear conditioning processes.

Author information

1
Barnard College, Biology Department, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, United States. Electronic address: ebauer@barnard.edu.

Abstract

This review describes the latest developments in our understanding of how the serotonergic system modulates Pavlovian fear conditioning, fear expression and fear extinction. These different phases of classical fear conditioning involve coordinated interactions between the extended amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortices. Here, I first define the different stages of learning involved in cued and context fear conditioning and describe the neural circuits underlying these processes. The serotonergic system can be manipulated by administering serotonin receptor agonists and antagonists, as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and these can have significant effects on emotional learning and memory. Moreover, variations in serotonergic genes can influence fear conditioning and extinction processes, and can underlie differential responses to pharmacological manipulations. This research has considerable translational significance as imbalances in the serotonergic system have been linked to anxiety and depression, while abnormalities in the mechanisms of conditioned fear contribute to anxiety disorders.

KEYWORDS:

Amygdala; Fear conditioning; Serotonin

PMID:
25078294
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbr.2014.07.028
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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