Research Article

A Neural Circuit for Memory Specificity and Generalization

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Science  15 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6125, pp. 1290-1295
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229534

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The Thalamus in Fear and Memory

The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) mediates the cognitive control of many high-level brain functions. However, it is unclear which synaptic projections from the mPFC to subcortical regions are critical for maintaining the proper balance between retention and generalization of fear memory details. Using an array of behavioral, physiological, and anatomical techniques, Xu and Südhof (p. 1290) describe a neural circuit that controls memory generalization and specificity. This circuit involves the nucleus reuniens (NR), a thalamic nucleus of largely unknown function. Optogenetic activation of NR neurons in awake behaving mice revealed the role of the NR in fear memory generalization.