Convergent Coding of Recent and Remote Fear Memory in the Basolateral Amygdala. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: In both rodents and humans, the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is essential for encoding and retrieving conditioned fear memories. Although the BLA is a putative storage site for these memories, recent evidence suggests that they become independent of the BLA with the passage of time. METHODS: We systematically examined the role for the BLA in the retrieval of recent (1 day) and remote (2 weeks) fear memory using optogenetic, electrophysiological, and calcium imaging methods in male and female Long-Evans rats. Critically, we used a behavioral design that permits within-subjects comparison of recent and remote memory at the same time point; freezing behavior served as the index of learned fear. RESULTS: We found that BLA c-Fos expression was similar after the retrieval of recent or remote fear memories. Extracellular single-unit recordings in awake, behaving animals revealed that single BLA neurons exhibit robust increases in spike firing to both recent and remote conditioned stimuli. Fiber photometry recordings revealed that these patterns of activity emerge from principal neurons. Consistent with these results, optogenetic inhibition of BLA principal neurons impaired conditioned freezing to both recent and remote conditioned stimuli. There were no sex differences in any of the measures or manipulations. CONCLUSIONS: These data reveal that BLA neurons encode both recent and remote fear memories, suggesting substantial overlap in the allocation of temporally distinct events. This may underlie the broad generalization of fear memories across both space and time. Ultimately, these results provide evidence that the BLA is a long-term storage site for emotional memories.

published proceedings

  • Biol Psychiatry

altmetric score

  • 15.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Liu, J., Totty, M. S., Melissari, L., Bayer, H., & Maren, S.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Liu, Jianfeng||Totty, Michael S||Melissari, Laila||Bayer, Hugo||Maren, Stephen

publication date

  • May 2022