Multiple Roles for Synoptic Plasticity in Pavlovian Fear Conditioning Chapter uri icon


  • SUMMARYLong-term potentiation (LTP) is a form of synaptic plasticity that has been proposed to mediate certain forms of learning and memory. In this chapter, it is argued that LTP in the hippocampus and amygdala plays a crucial role in the acquisition of a simple form of emotional learning and memory: Pavlovian fear conditioning. The distinct roles for hippocampal and amygdaloid LTP and the roles for short-term synaptic plasticity mechanisms in the acquisition of learned fear responses are discussed.IntroductionI would have you imagine, then, that there exists in the mind of man a block of wax, which is of different sizes in different men; harder, moister, and having more or less purity in one than another, and in some an intermediate quality. Let us say that this tablet is a gift of Memory, the mother of the Muses, and that when we wish to remember anything which we have seen, or heard, or thought in our own minds, we hold the wax to the perceptions and thoughts, and in that material receive the impression of them as from the seal of a ring; but when the image is effaced, or cannot be taken, then we forget and do not know.Plato, ca. 400 B.C.Throughout history, humans have been fascinated by the nature of memory, the permanent storehouse of the mind's experience. The foregoing passage excerpted from Plato's Theaetetus (ca. 400 B.C.) represents an early attempt to describe the process of memory formation in the human brain. In this passage, Plato envisions that memories are established in the brain when perceptions or thoughts render lasting impressions in the mnemonic wax of the mind.

author list (cited authors)

  • Maren, S.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Maren, Stephen

editor list (cited editors)

  • Hölscher, C.

Book Title

  • Neuronal Mechanisms of Memory Formation

publication date

  • November 2000