Renewal of extinguished fear activates ventral hippocampal neurons projecting to the prelimbic and infralimbic cortices in rats
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Anatomical disconnection of the ventral hippocampus (VH) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) impairs the renewal of extinguished fear in rats. Here we examined whether subpopulations of neurons in the VH that project to the mPFC, including the prelimbic cortex (PL) and infralimbic cortex (IL), are selectively or differentially engaged by the renewal of fear to an extinguished auditory conditioned stimulus (CS). Rats were ipsilaterally injected with two distinct fluorescent retrograde tracers into the IL and PL and then underwent fear conditioning, extinction and retrieval in distinct contexts. Ventral hippocampal neurons were found to project to both IL and PL, and a small number of neurons projected to both regions. Fos expression was similarly elevated in each subpopulation of mPFC-projecting neuron in animals tested outside the extinction context relative to those tested in the extinction context or home controls. Interestingly, this pattern of results is not consistent with circuit models suggesting a differential role for VH projections to PL and IL in the bidirectional regulation of fear expression after extinction. Rather, these data suggest that projections from the VH to both PL and IL are uniquely involved in fear renewal, but not the suppression of fear after extinction. VH neurons may drive fear renewal by fostering fear expression by exciting PL while limiting fear suppression by inhibiting IL.
author list (cited authors)
Wang, Q., Jin, J., & Maren, S.