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Science 331 (6013): 87-91

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Electrical Synapses Control Hippocampal Contributions to Fear Learning and Memory

Stephanie Bissiere, Moriel Zelikowsky, Ravikumar Ponnusamy, Nathan S. Jacobs, Hugh T. Blair, Michael S. Fanselow*

Abstract: The role of electrical synapses in synchronizing neuronal assemblies in the adult mammalian brain is well documented. However, their role in learning and memory processes remains unclear. By combining Pavlovian fear conditioning, activity-dependent immediate early gene expression, and in vivo electrophysiology, we discovered that blocking neuronal gap junctions within the dorsal hippocampus impaired context-dependent fear learning, memory, and extinction. Theta rhythms in freely moving rats were also disrupted. Our results show that gap junction–mediated neuronal transmission is a prominent feature underlying emotional memories.

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: fanselow{at}psych.ucla.edu

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