Learning-Induced Plasticity in the Medial Geniculate Nucleus Is Expressed During Paradoxical Sleep

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Fear conditioning to an acoustic stimulus produces increases in tone-evoked discharges of neurons in the medial division of the medial geniculate nucleus (MG). This study examined the responses of MG neurons to a conditioned tone presented in paradoxical sleep (PS). After 1 session of habituation to a tone, awake rats underwent conditioning in 3 sessions during which the tone was used as the conditioned stimulus preceding a footshock. Control rats received unpaired presentations of tone and shock. The same tone, which never awakened the animal, was presented during PS following each daily session. Responses of MG neurons to the tone in PS were increased after conditioning. This enhancement was as large as that in waking and was manifested earlier after tone onset than in waking. No change appeared after pseudoconditioning. These results demonstrate that associatively induced plasticity in the MG can be expressed during PS.

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