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Selective erasure of a fear memory


Han, J H; Kushner, S A; Yiu, A P; Hsiang, H L; Buchanan, T; Waisman, A; Bontempi, B; Neve, R L; Frankland, P W; Josselyn, S A (2009). Selective erasure of a fear memory. Science, 323(5920):1492-1496.

Abstract

Memories are thought to be encoded by sparsely distributed groups of neurons. However, identifying the precise neurons supporting a given memory (the memory trace) has been a long-standing challenge. We have shown previously that lateral amygdala (LA) neurons with increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB) are preferentially activated by fear memory expression, which suggests that they are selectively recruited into the memory trace. We used an inducible diphtheria-toxin strategy to specifically ablate these neurons. Selectively deleting neurons overexpressing CREB (but not a similar portion of random LA neurons) after learning blocked expression of that fear memory. The resulting memory loss was robust and persistent, which suggests that the memory was permanently erased. These results establish a causal link between a specific neuronal subpopulation and memory expression, thereby identifying critical neurons within the memory trace.

Memories are thought to be encoded by sparsely distributed groups of neurons. However, identifying the precise neurons supporting a given memory (the memory trace) has been a long-standing challenge. We have shown previously that lateral amygdala (LA) neurons with increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB) are preferentially activated by fear memory expression, which suggests that they are selectively recruited into the memory trace. We used an inducible diphtheria-toxin strategy to specifically ablate these neurons. Selectively deleting neurons overexpressing CREB (but not a similar portion of random LA neurons) after learning blocked expression of that fear memory. The resulting memory loss was robust and persistent, which suggests that the memory was permanently erased. These results establish a causal link between a specific neuronal subpopulation and memory expression, thereby identifying critical neurons within the memory trace.

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207 citations in Web of Science®
213 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Experimental Immunology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:12 Feb 2010 08:01
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:53
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
ISSN:0036-8075
Publisher DOI:10.1126/science.1164139
PubMed ID:19286560

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