Auditory-Evoked Spike Firing in the Lateral Amygdala and Pavlovian Fear Conditioning Mnemonic Code or Fear Bias? Academic Article uri icon


  • Amygdala neuroplasticity has emerged as a candidate substrate for Pavlovian fear memory. By this view, conditional stimulus (CS)-evoked activity represents a mnemonic code that initiates the expression of fear behaviors. However, a fear state may nonassociatively enhance sensory processing, biasing CS-evoked activity in amygdala neurons. Here we describe experiments that dissociate auditory CS-evoked spike firing in the lateral amygdala (LA) and both conditional fear behavior and LA excitability in rats. We found that the expression of conditional freezing and increased LA excitability was neither necessary nor sufficient for the expression of conditional increases in CS-evoked spike firing. Rather, conditioning-related changes in CS-evoked spike firing were solely determined by the associative history of the CS. Thus, our data support a model in which associative activity in the LA encodes fear memory and contributes to the expression of learned fear behaviors.

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Goosens, K. A., Hobin, J. A., & Maren, S.

citation count

  • 100

publication date

  • December 2003

published in