Behavioral and neural analysis of GABA in the acquisition, consolidation, reconsolidation, and extinction of fear memory.
ABSTRACT: The current review systematically documents the role of gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) in different aspects of fear memory-acquisition and consolidation, reconsolidation, and extinction, and attempts to resolve apparent contradictions in the data in order to identify the function of GABA(A) receptors in fear memory. First, numerous studies have shown that pre- and post-training administration of drugs that facilitate GABAergic transmission disrupt the initial formation of fear memories, indicating a role for GABA(A) receptors, possibly within the amygdala and hippocampus, in the acquisition and consolidation of fear memories. Similarly, recent evidence indicates that these drugs are also detrimental to the restorage of fear memories after their reactivation. This suggests a role for GABA(A) receptors in the reconsolidation of fear memories, although the precise neural circuits are yet to be identified. Finally, research regarding the role of GABA in extinction has shown that GABAergic transmission is also disruptive to the formation of newly acquired extinction memories. We argue that contradictions to these patterns are the result of variations in (a) the location of drug infusion, (b) the dosage of the drug and/or (c) the time point of drug administration. The question of whether these GABA-induced memory deficits reflect deficits in retrieval is discussed. Overall, the evidence implies that the processes mediating memory stability consequent to initial fear learning, memory reactivation, and extinction training are dependent on a common mechanism of reduced GABAergic neurotransmission.
Project description:The reactivation of a memory through retrieval can render it subject to disruption or modification through the process of memory reconsolidation. In both humans and rodents, briefly reactivating a fear memory results in effective erasure by subsequent extinction training. Here we show that a similar strategy is equally effective in the disruption of appetitive pavlovian cue-food memories. However, systemic administration of the NMDA receptor partial agonist D-cycloserine, under the same behavioural conditions, did not potentiate appetitive memory extinction, suggesting that reactivation does not enhance subsequent extinction learning. To confirm that reactivation followed by extinction reflects a behavioural analogue of memory reconsolidation, we show that prevention of contextual fear memory reactivation by the L-type voltage-gated calcium channel blocker nimodipine interferes with the amnestic outcome. Therefore, the reconsolidation process can be manipulated behaviourally to disrupt both aversive and appetitive memories.
Project description:Memory reconsolidation is the direct effect of memory reactivation followed by stabilization of newly synthesized proteins. It has been well proven that neural encoding of both newly and reactivated memories requires synaptic plasticity. Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been extensively investigated regarding its role in the formation of synaptic plasticity and in the alteration of fear memories. However, its role in fear reconsolidation is still unclear; hence, the current study has been designed to investigate the role of the BDNF val66met polymorphism (rs6265) in fear memory reconsolidation in humans.An auditory fear-conditioning paradigm was conducted, which comprised of three stages (acquisition, reactivation, and spontaneous recovery). One day after fear acquisition, the experimental group underwent reactivation of fear memory followed by the extinction training (reminder group), whereas the control group (non-reminder group) underwent only extinction training. On day 3, both groups were subjected to spontaneous recovery of earlier learned fearful memories. The treat-elicited defensive response due to conditioned threat was measured by assessing the skin conductance response to the conditioned stimulus. All participants were genotyped for rs6265.The results indicate a diminishing effect of reminder on the persistence of fear memory only in the Met-allele carriers, suggesting a moderating effect of the BDNF polymorphism in fear memory reconsolidation.Our findings suggest a new role for BDNF gene variation in fear memory reconsolidation in humans.
Project description:After acquisition, hippocampus-dependent memories undergo a systems consolidation process, during which they become independent of the hippocampus and dependent on the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) for memory expression. However, consolidated remote memories can become transiently hippocampus-dependent again following memory reactivation. How this systems reconsolidation affects the role of the ACC in remote memory expression is not known. Using contextual fear conditioning, we show that the expression of 30-day-old remote memory can transiently be supported by either the ACC or the dorsal hippocampus following memory reactivation, and that the ACC specifically mediates expression of remote generalized contextual fear memory. We found that suppression of neural activity in the ACC with the AMPA/kainate receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) impaired the expression of remote, but not recent, contextual fear memory. Fear expression was not affected by this treatment if preceded by memory reactivation 6?h earlier, nor was it affected by suppression of neural activity in the dorsal hippocampus with the GABA-receptor agonist muscimol. However, simultaneous targeting of both the ACC and the dorsal hippocampus 6?h after memory reactivation disrupted contextual fear memory expression. Second, we observed that expression of a 30-day-old generalized contextual fear memory in a novel context was not affected by memory reactivation 6?h earlier. However, intra-ACC CNQX infusion before testing impaired contextual fear expression in the novel context, but not the original training context. Together, these data suggest that although the dorsal hippocampus may be recruited during systems reconsolidation, the ACC remains necessary for the expression of generalized contextual fear memory.
Project description:Curcumin, a yellow-pigment compound found in the popular Indian spice turmeric (Curcuma longa), has been extensively investigated for its anti-inflammatory, chemopreventative, and antidepressant properties. Here, we examined the efficacy of dietary curcumin at impairing the consolidation and reconsolidation of a Pavlovian fear memory, a widely studied animal model of traumatic memory formation in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We show that a diet enriched with 1.5% curcumin prevents the training-related elevation in the expression of the immediate early genes (IEGs) Arc/Arg3.1 and Egr-1 in the lateral amygdala (LA) and impairs the 'consolidation' of an auditory Pavlovian fear memory; short-term memory (STM) is intact, whereas long-term memory (LTM) is significantly impaired. Next, we show that dietary curcumin impairs the 'reconsolidation' of a recently formed auditory Pavlovian fear memory; fear memory retrieval (reactivation) and postreactivation (PR)-STM are intact, whereas PR-LTM is significantly impaired. Additional experiments revealed that dietary curcumin is also effective at impairing the reconsolidation of an older, well-consolidated fear memory. Furthermore, we observed that fear memories that fail to reconsolidate under the influence of dietary curcumin are impaired in an enduring manner; unlike extinguished fear memories, they are not subject to reinstatement or renewal. Collectively, our findings indicate that a diet enriched with curcumin is capable of impairing fear memory consolidation and reconsolidation processes, findings that may have important clinical implications for the treatment of disorders such as PTSD that are characterized by unusually strong and persistently reactivated fear memories.
Project description:Memory consolidation refers to a process by which newly learned information is made resistant to disruption. Traditionally, consolidation has been viewed as an event that occurs once in the life of a memory. However, considerable evidence now indicates that consolidated memories, when reactivated through retrieval, become labile (susceptible to disruption) again and undergo reconsolidation. Because memories are often interrelated in complex associative networks rather than stored in isolation, a key question is whether reactivation of one memory makes associated memories labile in a way that requires reconsolidation. We tested this in rats by creating interlinked associative memories using a second-order fear-conditioning task. We found that directly reactivated memories become labile, but indirectly reactivated (i.e., associated) memories do not. This suggests that memory reactivation produces content-limited rather than wholesale changes in a memory and its associations and explains why each time a memory is retrieved and updated, the entire associative structure of the memory is not grossly altered.
Project description:Existing memories, when retrieved under certain circumstances, can undergo modification through the protein synthesis-dependent process of reconsolidation. Disruption of this process can lead to the weakening of a memory trace, an approach which is being examined as a potential treatment for disorders characterized by pathological memories, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The success of this approach relies upon the ability to robustly attenuate reconsolidation; however, the available literature brings into question the reliability of the various drugs used to achieve such a blockade. The identification of a drug or intervention that can reliably disrupt reconsolidation without requiring intracranial access for administration would be extremely useful. Electroconvulsive shock (ECS) delivered after memory retrieval has been demonstrated in some studies to disrupt memory reconsolidation; however, there exists a paucity of literature characterizing its effects on Pavlovian fear memory. Considering this, we chose to examine ECS as an inexpensive and facile means to impair reconsolidation in rats. Here we show that electroconvulsive seizure induction, when administered after memory retrieval, (immediately, after 30 min, or after 1 h), does not impair the reconsolidation of cued or contextual Pavlovian fear memories. On the contrary, ECS administration immediately after extinction training may modestly impair the consolidation of fear extinction memory.
Project description:The chronically stressed brain may present a vulnerability to develop maladaptive fear-related behaviors in response to a traumatic event. In rodents, chronic stress leads to amygdala hyperresponsivity and dendritic hypertrophy and produces a post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-like phenotype that includes exaggerated fear learning following Pavlovian fear conditioning and resistance to extinction. It is unknown whether chronic stress-induced enhanced fear memories are vulnerable to disruption via reconsolidation blockade, as a novel therapeutic approach for attenuating exaggerated fear memories. We used a chronic stress procedure in a rat model (wire mesh restraint for 6h/d/21d) to create a vulnerable brain that leads to a PTSD-like phenotype. We then examined freezing behavior during acquisition, reactivation and after post-reactivation rapamycin administration (i.p., 40mg/kg) in a Pavlovian fear conditioning paradigm to determine its effects on reconsolidation as well as the subsequent functional activation of limbic structures using zif268 mRNA. Chronic stress increased amygdala zif268 mRNA during fear memory retrieval at reactivation. Moreover, these enhanced fear memories were unaffected by post reactivation rapamycin to disrupt long-term fear memory. Also, post-reactivation long term memory processing was also associated with increased amygdala (LA and BA), and decreased hippocampal CA1 zif268 mRNA expression. These results suggest potential challenges for reconsolidation blockade as an effective approach in treating exaggerated fear memories, as in PTSD. Our findings also support chronic stress manipulations combined with fear conditioning as a useful preclinical approach to study a PTSD-like phenotype.
Project description:The noradrenergic system plays a critical role in the 'consolidation' of emotional memory. If we are to target 'reconsolidation' in patients with anxiety disorders, the noradrenergic strengthening of fear memory should not impair the disruption of reconsolidation. In Experiment I, we addressed this issue using a differential fear conditioning procedure allowing selective reactivation of one of two fear associations. First, we strengthened fear memory by administering an ?(2)-adrenergic receptor antagonist (ie, yohimbine HCl; double-blind placebo-controlled study) 30 min before acquisition (time for peak value yohimbine HCl <1 h). Next, the reconsolidation of one of the fear associations was manipulated by administering a ?-adrenergic receptor antagonist (ie, propranolol HCl) 90 min before its selective reactivation (time for peak value propranolol HCl <2 h). In Experiment II, we administered propranolol HCl after reactivation of the memory to rule out a possible effect of the pharmacological manipulation on the memory retrieval itself. The excessive release of noradrenaline during memory formation not only delayed the process of extinction 48 h later, but also triggered broader fear generalization. Yet, the ?-adrenergic receptor blocker during reconsolidation selectively 'neutralized' the fear-arousing aspects of the noradrenergic-strengthened memory and undermined the generalization of fear. We observed a similar reduction in fear responding when propranolol HCl was administered after reactivation of the memory. The present findings demonstrate the involvement of noradrenergic modulation in the formation as well as generalization of human fear memory. Given that the noradrenergic strengthening of fear memory impaired extinction learning but not the disruption of reconsolidation, our findings may have implications for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Project description:The ability to regulate the consolidation and strengthening of memories for threatening experiences is critical for mental health, and its dysregulation may lead to psychopathologies. Re-exposure to the context in which the threat was experienced can either increase or decrease fear response through distinct processes known, respectively, as reconsolidation or extinction. Using a context retrieval-dependent memory-enhancement model in rats, we report that memory strengthens through activation of direct projections from dorsal hippocampus to prelimbic (PL) cortex and activation of critical PL molecular mechanisms that are not required for extinction. Furthermore, while sustained PL brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression is required for memory consolidation, retrieval engages PL BDNF to regulate excitatory and inhibitory synaptic proteins neuroligin 1 and neuroligin 2, which promote memory strengthening while inhibiting extinction. Thus, context retrieval-mediated fear-memory enhancement results from a concerted action of mechanisms that strengthen memory through reconsolidation while suppressing extinction.
Project description:Pavlovian fear conditioning provides one of the best rodent models of acquired anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder. Injection of a variety of drugs after training in fear-conditioning paradigms can impair consolidation of fear memories. Indeed, early clinical trials suggest that immediate administration of such drugs after a traumatic event may decrease the risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder in humans (Pitman et al., 2002; Vaiva et al., 2003). The use of such a treatment is limited by the difficulty of treating every patient at risk and by the difficulty in predicting which patients will experience chronic adverse consequences. Recent clinical trials suggest that administration of glucocorticoids may have a beneficial effect on established posttraumatic stress disorder (Aerni et al., 2004) and specific phobia (Soravia et al., 2006). Conversely, glucocorticoid administration after training is known to enhance memory consolidation (McGaugh and Roozendaal, 2002; Roozendaal, 2002). From a clinical perspective, enhancement of a fear memory or a reactivated fear memory would not be desirable. We report here that when glucocorticoids are administered immediately after reactivation of a contextual fear memory, subsequent recall is significantly diminished. Additional experiments support the interpretation that glucocorticoids not only decrease fear memory retrieval but, in addition, augment consolidation of fear memory extinction rather than decreasing reconsolidation. These findings provide a rodent model for a potential treatment of established acquired anxiety disorders in humans, as suggested by others (Aerni et al., 2004; Schelling et al., 2004), based on a mechanism of enhanced extinction.