Molecular mechanisms of fear learning and memory

Joshua P. Johansen, Christopher K. Cain, Linnaea E. Ostroff, Joseph Ledoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Pavlovian fear conditioning is a particularly useful behavioral paradigm for exploring the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory because a well-defined response to a specific environmental stimulus is produced through associative learning processes. Synaptic plasticity in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA) underlies this form of associative learning. Here, we summarize the molecular mechanisms that contribute to this synaptic plasticity in the context of auditory fear conditioning, the form of fear conditioning best understood at the molecular level. We discuss the neurotransmitter systems and signaling cascades that contribute to three phases of auditory fear conditioning: acquisition, consolidation, and reconsolidation. These studies suggest that multiple intracellular signaling pathways, including those triggered by activation of Hebbian processes and neuromodulatory receptors, interact to produce neural plasticity in the LA and behavioral fear conditioning. Collectively, this body of research illustrates the power of fear conditioning as a model system for characterizing the mechanisms of learning and memory in mammals and potentially for understanding fear-related disorders, such as PTSD and phobias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-524
Number of pages16
JournalCell
Volume147
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 28 2011

Fingerprint

Fear
Plasticity
Learning
Data storage equipment
Neuronal Plasticity
Mammals
Consolidation
Neurotransmitter Agents
Chemical activation
Phobic Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Conditioning (Psychology)
Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Johansen, J. P., Cain, C. K., Ostroff, L. E., & Ledoux, J. (2011). Molecular mechanisms of fear learning and memory. Cell, 147(3), 509-524. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.009

Molecular mechanisms of fear learning and memory. / Johansen, Joshua P.; Cain, Christopher K.; Ostroff, Linnaea E.; Ledoux, Joseph.

In: Cell, Vol. 147, No. 3, 28.10.2011, p. 509-524.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Johansen, JP, Cain, CK, Ostroff, LE & Ledoux, J 2011, 'Molecular mechanisms of fear learning and memory', Cell, vol. 147, no. 3, pp. 509-524. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.009
Johansen, Joshua P. ; Cain, Christopher K. ; Ostroff, Linnaea E. ; Ledoux, Joseph. / Molecular mechanisms of fear learning and memory. In: Cell. 2011 ; Vol. 147, No. 3. pp. 509-524.
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