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Keywords:

  • amygdala;
  • cerebellum;
  • eyeblink conditioning;
  • GABA;
  • mouse

Abstract

That the cerebellum plays an essential role in delay eyeblink conditioning is well established in the rabbit, but not in the mouse. To elucidate the critical brain structures involved in delay eyeblink conditioning in mice, we examined the roles of the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN), the amygdala and the red nucleus (RN) through the use of electrolytic lesions and reversible inactivation. All mice received eyeblink training of 50 trials during a daily session in the higher-intensity conditioned stimulus (CS) condition (10 kHz, 70 dB). DCN lesions caused severe ataxia; nonetheless, the mice acquired conditioned responses (CRs). Reversible inactivation of DCN, by muscimol (MSC) injection, led to a severe CR impairment in the early sessions of conditioning; however, in later sessions, the mice acquired CRs. Amygdala lesions impaired the acquisition of CRs, which did not reach the level of sham-operated mice, even after prolonged training sessions. MSC injections into the lateral amygdala severely impaired CRs, which began to recover after the removal of MSC. RN inactivation with MSC completely abolished CRs, and removal of MSC immediately restored CRs to the level of control mice. The results indicate that: (i) the DCN are important, but not essential, at least for the late acquisition in mouse eyeblink conditioning; (ii) the amygdala plays an important role in the acquisition and expression of CRs; and (iii) the RN is essential for the expression of CRs. Our findings reveal the various brain areas critically involved in mouse eyeblink conditioning, which include the cerebellum, amygdala and RN.