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Neuroscience. 2016 May 13;322:370-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.02.059. Epub 2016 Mar 2.

Mechanisms underlying the formation of the amygdalar fear memory trace: A computational perspective.

Author information

1
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA.
2
Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ, USA.
3
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA. Electronic address: nairs@missouri.edu.

Abstract

Recent experimental and modeling studies on the lateral amygdala (LA) have implicated intrinsic excitability and competitive synaptic interactions among principal neurons (PNs) in the formation of auditory fear memories. The present modeling studies, conducted over an expanded range of intrinsic excitability in the network, revealed that only excitable PNs that received tone inputs participate in the competition. Strikingly, the number of model PNs integrated into the fear memory trace remained constant despite the much larger range considered, and model runs highlighted several conditioning-induced tone responsive characteristics of the various PN populations. Furthermore, these studies showed that although excitation was important, disynaptic inhibition among PNs is the dominant mechanism that keeps the number of plastic PNs stable despite large variations in the network's excitability. Finally, we found that the overall level of inhibition in the model network determines the number of projection cells integrated into the fear memory trace.

KEYWORDS:

biophysical model; hebbian learning; sparse coding

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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