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Science 308 (5718): 83-88

Copyright © 2005 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Postsynaptic Receptor Trafficking Underlying a Form of Associative Learning

Simon Rumpel,1 Joseph LeDoux,2 Anthony Zador,1 Roberto Malinow1*

Abstract: To elucidate molecular, cellular, and circuit changes that occur in the brain during learning, we investigated the role of a glutamate receptor subtype in fear conditioning. In this form of learning, animals associate two stimuli, such as a tone and a shock. Here we report that fear conditioning drives AMPA-type glutamate receptors into the synapse of a large fraction of postsynaptic neurons in the lateral amygdala, a brain structure essential for this learning process. Furthermore, memory was reduced if AMPA receptor synaptic incorporation was blocked in as few as 10 to 20% of lateral amygdala neurons. Thus, the encoding of memories in the lateral amygdala is mediated by AMPA receptor trafficking, is widely distributed, and displays little redundancy.

1 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724, USA.
2 New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: malinow{at}cshl.edu


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