ERIC Number: EJ887708
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Evidence for Hippocampus-Dependent Contextual Learning at Postnatal Day 17 in the Rat
Foster, Jennifer A.; Burman, Michael A.
Learning & Memory, v17 n5 p259-266 May 2010
Long-term memory for fear of an environment (contextual fear conditioning) emerges later in development (postnatal day; PD 23) than long-term memory for fear of discrete stimuli (PD 17). As contextual, but not explicit cue, fear conditioning relies on the hippocampus; this has been interpreted as evidence that the hippocampus is not fully developed until PD 23. Alternatively, the hippocampus may be functional prior to PD 23, but unable to cooperate with the amygdala for fearful learning. The current experiments investigate this by separating the phases of conditioning across developmental stages. Rats were allowed to learn about the context on one day and to form the fearful association on another. Rats exposed to the context on PD 17 exhibited significant fear only when trained and tested a week later (PD 23, 24), but not on consecutive days (PD 18, 19), demonstrating that rats can learn about a context as early as PD 17. Further experiments clarify that it is associative mechanisms that are developing between PD 18 and 23. Finally, the hippocampus was lesioned prior to training to ensure the task is being solved in a hippocampus-dependent manner. These data provide compelling evidence that the hippocampus is functional for contextual learning as early as PD 17, however, its connection to the amygdala or other relevant brain structures may not yet be fully developed.
Descriptors: Conditioning, Neurology, Long Term Memory, Developmental Stages, Fear, Learning Processes, Brain, Animals
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A