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Differential transcriptional response to nonassociative and associative components of classical fear conditioning in the amygdala and hippocampus

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
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  • Research


Classical fear conditioning requires the recognition of conditioned stimuli (CS) and the association of the CS with an aversive stimulus. We used Affymetrix oligonucleotide microarrays to characterize changes in gene expression compared to naive mice in both the amygdala and the hippocampus 30 min after classical fear conditioning and 30 min after exposure to the CS in the absence of an aversive stimulus. We found that in the hippocampus, levels of gene regulation induced by classical fear conditioning were not significantly greater than those induced by CS alone, whereas in the amygdala, classical fear conditioning did induce significantly greater levels of gene regulation compared to the CS. Computational studies suggest that transcriptional changes in the hippocampus and amygdala are mediated by large and overlapping but distinct combinations of molecular events. Our results demonstrate that an increase in gene regulation in the amygdala was partially correlated to associative learning and partially correlated to nonassociative components of the task, while gene regulation in the hippocampus was correlated to nonassociative components of classical fear conditioning, including configural learning.

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