Indexed on: 12 May '04Published on: 12 May '04Published in: Behavioural Brain Research
These experiments examined the relationship between freezing and c-Fos expression in the amygdala. In Experiment 1 freezing was elevated during a period immediately following shock in rats that remained in the shock context, but not in rats that were moved to a different, neutral context. The two groups showed equally elevated c-Fos levels in both the central (CeA) and lateral (LA) nuclei. In Experiment 2 rats were shocked in one compartment (paired) and not shocked in another, distinct compartment (unpaired). Rats re-exposed to the paired compartment 24h later froze more than rats exposed to the unpaired compartment, and rats in both groups froze more than un-shocked rats. c-Fos protein expression in CeA, LA and basolateral (BLA) nucleus was elevated in the rats exposed to the paired compartment but not in rats exposed to the unpaired compartment. Thus, c-Fos expression was induced by exposure to both unconditioned and conditioned stimuli, although it is unclear if the same cell population was activated in both cases. Neither case of c-Fos expression coincided with the occurrence of freezing. c-Fos expression may represent neural activity in LA and CeA produced by exposure to unconditioned cues and activity in BLA, LA and CeA produced by conditioned cues. This activity may contribute to an aversive affective state (or "fear"). Behaviors promoted by this state, such as freezing, may be mediated in other brain areas, or by other neurons in the amygdala.