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Keywords:

  • c-Fos;
  • emotion;
  • Fluoro-Gold;
  • learning;
  • memory

Abstract

Several studies implicate a role for the amygdala in processing of emotional memories that might partially occur in the connections between the amygdala and the hippocampal–parahippocampal areas. The present study was designed to determine if the pathway from the amygdala to the entorhinal cortex becomes activated during acquisition of fear-conditioning. First, the retrograde tracer Fluoro-Gold (FG) was iontophoresed into the entorhinal cortex in rats. Following habituation, animals were divided into five groups: (i) controls that received another habituation session; (ii) animals given a tone only; (iii) animals given a footshock only; (iv) animals given an unpaired presentation of a shock and a tone; and (v) conditioned animals that received a single tone–footshock pairing. Then double-immunohistochemistry against c-Fos and FG or glutamate decarboxylase (GAD67) was performed. The numbers and densities of labelled neurons were calculated in the lateral and basal nuclei of the amygdala. In conditioned animals the number and density of c-Fos-positive nuclei increased in dorsolateral and medial divisions of the lateral nucleus compared with the control group (P < 0.05). Additionally, in the medial division of the lateral nucleus, the percentage of c-Fos/FG double-labelled neurons was higher in the conditioned animals compared with the other groups (P < 0.05). Only a very few GAD67-positive interneurons expressed c-Fos. These data indicate that a part of the amygdalo-entorhinal pathway is activated during acquisition of fear-conditioning. These data support the idea that emotionally relevant sensory information in the lateral nucleus can influence information processing in the hippocampal and parahippocampal areas via the amygdalo-entorhinal pathway.