Previous research has shown that hippocampal lesions impair the expression of fear conditioning. This fear conditioning deficit may be due to memory impairment or a reduction in fear in lesioned animals. To address these possibilities, the authors examined unconditioned and conditioned fear in male Sprague-Dawley rats that had received intracerebroventricular (ICV) infusions of kainic acid (KA) 30 days prior to testing. Animals that had received bilateral ICV infusions of KA (1.0 μl of 0.8 mg/ml solution per side) exhibited cell loss that was primarily confined to the CA3 region of the dorsal hippocampus. Kainic acid lesions impaired contextual and cued fear conditioning but did not affect unconditioned fear in a light:dark test of anxiety. Moreover, animals with KA lesions did not habituate to the light:dark apparatus when tested over a 3-day period. These data suggest that decreases in fear conditioning produced by hippocampal lesions reflect a memory deficit and not a lack of fear.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience