Electrical Synapses Control Hippocampal Contributions to Fear Learning and Memory

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Science  07 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6013, pp. 87-91
DOI: 10.1126/science.1193785

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The role of electrical synapses in synchronizing neuronal assemblies in the adult mammalian brain is well documented. However, their role in learning and memory processes remains unclear. By combining Pavlovian fear conditioning, activity-dependent immediate early gene expression, and in vivo electrophysiology, we discovered that blocking neuronal gap junctions within the dorsal hippocampus impaired context-dependent fear learning, memory, and extinction. Theta rhythms in freely moving rats were also disrupted. Our results show that gap junction–mediated neuronal transmission is a prominent feature underlying emotional memories.

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