The neurological basis for fear and memory

The neurological basis for fear and memory
Credit: Thinkstock

Fear conditioning using sound and taste aversion, as applied to mice, have revealed interesting information on the basis of memory allocation.

European 'Cellular mechanisms underlying formation of the fear memory trace in the mouse amygdala' (FEAR Memory TRACE) project is investigating memory allocation and the recruitment of certain neurons to encode a memory. By studying conditioned fear memory in response to an auditory stimulus, the researchers have delved into pathological emotional states and involved in memory allocation, retrieval and extinction.

Prior research has revealed that the conditioned fear response in mice is located in a specific bundle of neurons in the amygdala. Memory allocation modulation is due to expression of the transcription factor, cyclic adenosine 3', 5'-monophosphate response element binding protein (CREB) and possibly neuronal excitability.

FEAR Memory TRACE focused on the electrophysiological properties of neurons encoding the same memory. The project also aimed to ascertain the biophysical mechanisms in the plasticity changes recorded in the specific set of neurons in the fear memory trace.

Recording information on auditory fear conditioning and conditioned taste aversion, the scientists used intra-amygdala surgery using and electrophysiological experiments to detect neuronal excitability.

Transfected by virus, CREB tagged with green fluorescent protein together with the gene for channelrhodopsin2 were used in neural control experiments. Combined, these two elements caused neuron firing in specific . Molecular techniques included western blot for protein detection, genotyping and preparation.

Behavioural tests on long- and short-term memory of mice involving fear conditioning and taste aversion showed increased memory performance at the three-hour point rather than the five-hour point. The intrinsic excitability of the mice receiving both shock and the tone was increased at three hours, not five, compared to mice that only received the tone.

As the project continues to its close in two years, the aim is to identify biophysical mechanisms involved in recruiting neurons that compete with each other for a specific memory. FEAR will also develop computational models to assess the role of these mechanisms in memory performance.

Information on biochemical processes in neural mechanisms has wide application in many clinical situations including patients suffering memory loss, such as stroke victims. manipulation can be applied in treatment of neuroses and phobias.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers use computational models to study fear

Sep 30, 2009

The brain is a complex system made of billions of neurons and thousands of connections that relate to every human feeling, including one of the strongest emotions, fear. Most neurological fear studies have been rooted in ...

Researchers discover how to erase memory

Nov 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers working with mice have discovered that by removing a protein from the region of the brain responsible for recalling fear, they can permanently delete traumatic memories. Their report on a molecular ...

Study charts origins of fear memory

Sep 16, 2005

A team of researchers led by the University of Toronto has charted how and where a painful event becomes permanently etched in the brain. The researchers said their discovery has treatment implications for pain-related emotional ...

Recommended for you

Sport can help multiple sclerosis patients

16 minutes ago

A study developed at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (Spain) has preliminarily concluded that people with multiple sclerosis may reduce perceived fatigue and increase mobility through a series of ...

Obama's BRAIN initiative gets more than $300 million

4 hours ago

President Barack Obama's initiative to study the brain and improve treatment of conditions like Alzheimer's and autism was given a boost Tuesday with the announcement of more than $300 million in funds.

US aims for traumatic brain injury clinical trial success

17 hours ago

An unprecedented, public-private partnership funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) is being launched to drive the development of better-run clinical trials and may lead to the first successful treatments for traumatic ...

User comments