Indexed on: 17 Sep '15Published on: 17 Sep '15Published in: Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.)
Four experiments used rats to study false context fear memories. In Experiment 1, rats were pre-exposed to a distinctive chamber (context A) or to a control environment (context C), shocked after a delay in a second chamber (context B) and tested either in B or A. Rats pre-exposed to A froze just as much as control rats in B but more than control rats in A. In Experiment 2, rats were pre-exposed to A or C, subjected to an immediate shock in B and tested in B or A. Rats pre-exposed to A froze when tested in A but did not freeze when tested in B and control rats did not freeze in either A or B. The false fear memory to the pre-exposed A was contingent on its similarity with the shocked B. In Experiment 3, rats pre-exposed to A and subjected to immediate shock in B froze when tested in A but did not freeze when tested in C and rats pre-exposed to C did not freeze when tested either in A or C. In Experiment 4, rats pre-exposed to A and subjected to immediate shock in B froze more when tested in A than rats whose pre-exposure to A began with an immediate shock. The results were discussed in terms of a dual systems explanation of context fear conditioning: a hippocampal-dependent process that forms a unitary representation of context and an amygdala-based process which associates this representation with shock.