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J Neurosci. 1997 Dec 1;17(23):9353-60.

Evidence of contextual fear after lesions of the hippocampus: a disruption of freezing but not fear-potentiated startle.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut Mental Health Center, New Haven, Connecticut 06508, USA.


The roles of the dorsal hippocampus and the central nucleus of the amygdala in the expression of contextual fear were assessed using two measures of conditioned fear: freezing and fear-potentiated startle. A discriminable context conditioning paradigm was developed that demonstrated both conditioned freezing and fear-potentiated startle in a context paired previously with foot shock, relative to a context in which foot shock had never been presented. Post-training lesions of the central nucleus of the amygdala completely blocked both contextual freezing and fear-potentiated startle. Post-training lesions of the dorsal hippocampus attenuated contextual freezing, consistent with previous reports in the literature; however, these same lesions had no effect on fear-potentiated startle, suggesting preserved contextual fear. These results suggest that lesions of the hippocampus disrupt the freezing response but not contextual fear itself.

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