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Behav Neurosci. 1998 Apr;112(2):379-86.

Does the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis mediate fear behaviors?

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Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) has been implicated in autonomic and hormonal reactions to fearful stimuli, but its role in behavioral reactions to these stressors is less clear. This is puzzling, because 2 closely related areas, the septum and the amygdala, have been repeatedly implicated in fear behaviors. To investigate further, the behavioral effects of BNST lesions were compared to those of septal and amygdaloid lesions in 2 models of rat anxiety: the plus-maze and shock-probe tests. Septal lesions inhibited rats' open-arm avoidance in the plus-maze and suppressed burying of the shock-probe, whereas amygdaloid lesions specifically inhibited shock-probe avoidance. However, BNST lesions produced none of these anti-fear effects; thus, its involvement in the behavioral expression of fear is questionable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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