Mind the Gap (Junction)

Science Signaling  11 Jan 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 155, pp. ec14
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4155ec14

The role of chemical synapses in learning and memory in the adult mammalian brain is well established. In contrast, the more rapid neuronal transmission that is mediated by electrical synapses is not fully understood. Using a variety of different manipulations—including fear conditioning, drugs, and electrophysiological recordings—in freely moving rats, Bissiere et al. discovered that blocking neuronal gap junctions containing connexin 36 controls the acquisition and the consolidation of fear memories within the dorsal hippocampus. It appears that interfering with gap junction–mediated neuronal transmission selectively prevented the formation of a memory during aversive experiences such as fear conditioning.

S. Bissiere, M. Zelikowsky, R. Ponnusamy, N. S. Jacobs, H. T. Blair, M. S. Fanselow, Electrical synapses control hippocampal contributions to fear learning and memory. Science 331, 87–91 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]