Arc expression identifies the lateral amygdala fear memory trace

LA Gouty-Colomer, B Hosseini, IM Marcelo, Jaga Schreiber, Denise Slump, S Yamaguchi, Arthur Houweling, Dick Jaarsma, Ype Elgersma, Steven Kushner

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Memories are encoded within sparsely distributed neuronal ensembles. However, the defining cellular properties of neurons within a memory trace remain incompletely understood Using a fluorescence-based Arc reporter, we were able to visually identify the distinct subset of lateral amygdala (LA) neurons activated during auditory fear conditioning. kAte found that Arc-expressing neurons have enhanced intrinsic excitability and are preferentially recruited into newly encoded memory traces. Furthermore, synaptic potentiation of thalamic inputs to the LA during fear conditioning is learning-specific, postsynaptically mediated and highly localized to Arc-expressing neurons. Taken together, our findings validate the immediate-early gene Arc as a molecular marker for the LA neuronal ensemble recruited during fear learning. Moreover, these results establish a model of fear memory formation in which intrinsic excitability determines neuronal selection, whereas learning-related encoding is governed by synaptic plasticity.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)364-375
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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