Lesions of the Dorsal Hippocampus Block Trace Fear Conditioned Potentiation of Startle

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Several studies show that the hippocampus is critical for the memories mediating trace and contextual fear conditioning. This study investigates whether N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced lesions of the dorsal hippocampus made prior to training affect context fear conditioning and trace fear conditioning measured with the fear-potentiated startle. Pretraining excitotoxic lesions of the dorsal hippocampus blocked acquisition of trace fear conditioning to a tone stimulus but did not affect context fear conditioning. These data indicate that without a dorsal hippocampus rats are unable to acquire trace conditioning but can acquire contextual fear when fear is measured by potentiation of the startle response.

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