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      Neurons in medial prefrontal cortex signal memory for fear extinction.

      1 ,
      Nature
      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Conditioned fear responses to a tone previously paired with a shock diminish if the tone is repeatedly presented without the shock, a process known as extinction. Since Pavlov it has been hypothesized that extinction does not erase conditioning, but forms a new memory. Destruction of the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, which consists of infralimbic and prelimbic cortices, blocks recall of fear extinction, indicating that medial prefrontal cortex might store long-term extinction memory. Here we show that infralimbic neurons recorded during fear conditioning and extinction fire to the tone only when rats are recalling extinction on the following day. Rats that froze the least showed the greatest increase in infralimbic tone responses. We also show that conditioned tones paired with brief electrical stimulation of infralimbic cortex elicit low freezing in rats that had not been extinguished. Thus, stimulation resembling extinction-induced infralimbic tone responses is able to simulate extinction memory. We suggest that consolidation of extinction learning potentiates infralimbic activity, which inhibits fear during subsequent encounters with fear stimuli.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Nature
          Nature
          Springer Science and Business Media LLC
          0028-0836
          0028-0836
          Nov 07 2002
          : 420
          : 6911
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Physiology, Ponce School of Medicine, Ponce, Puerto Rico 00732, USA.
          Article
          nature01138
          10.1038/nature01138
          12422216
          f5c1c369-62e2-4f8b-96ba-f79ec381626c

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