Differential roles for hippocampal areas CA1 and CA3 in the contextual encoding and retrieval of extinguished fear.
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Recent studies demonstrate that context-specific memory retrieval after extinction requires the hippocampus. However, the contribution of hippocampal subfields to the context-dependent expression of extinction is not known. In the present experiments, we examined the roles of areas CA1 and CA3 of the dorsal hippocampus in the context specificity of extinction. After pairing an auditory conditional stimulus (CS) with an aversive footshock (unconditional stimulus or US), rats received extinction sessions in which the CS was presented without the US. In Experiment 1, pretraining neurotoxic lesions in either CA1 or CA3 eliminated the context dependence of extinguished fear. In Experiment 2, lesions of CA1 or CA3 were made after extinction training. In this case, only CA1 lesions impaired the context dependence of extinction. Collectively, these results reveal that both hippocampal areas CA1 and CA3 contribute to the acquisition of context-dependent extinction, but that only area CA1 is required for contextual memory retrieval.