Post-weaning is a critical period for brain maturation in the rat and is comparable to childhood and adolescences in humans. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are two brain regions that continue to mature during post-weaning and establish a critical circuit regulating the acquisition and extinction of conditioned fear. We previously demonstrated that exposure to stress leads to significant differences between adults and PWs in the kinetics of extinction behavior as well as differential effects on long-term potentiation. In the current experiments, we aimed to investigate whether prior fear or extinction learning would elicit differences in the ability to induce electrical LTP in the mPFC-BLA pathway in the adult and PW animals. To that end, we subjected adult and PW rats to auditory fear conditioning and extinction, followed by high-frequency stimulation (HFS) to induce LTP. The results indicate that when the conditioning protocol is adjusted to produce comparable extinction kinetics in both age groups, no LTP can be induced after fear conditioning in the mPFC-BLA pathway. Importantly, after extinction, LTP was successfully induced, and a significant difference was observed in the levels of potentiation between adults and PW rats. Further, freezing levels during extinction positively correlated with the magnitude of LTP only in adult animals. These results suggest that the changes occurring at the synaptic level following fear extinction are dissimilar in adult and PW animals. Our results further strengthen the assertion that PW and adult fear extinction learning may rely on different mechanisms.
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - 21 May 2022|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by an Israel Ministry of Science and Technology grant ( 3-15698 ).
© 2022 The Authors
- prefrontal cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (all)