Neuronal circuit mechanisms for fear conditioning

Andreas Lüthi

Cellular mechanisms of learning and memory, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland

Classical fear conditioning is one of the most powerful models for studying the neuronal substrates of associative learning and for investigating how plasticity in defined neuronal circuits causes behavioral changes. In animals and humans, the amygdala is a key brain structure within a larger neuronal network mediating the acquisition, expression and extinction of fear memories. In unraveling the substrates of fear conditioning and extinction, the major focus has been the study of excitatory elements. However, interneurons are critical components of neuronal networks and inhibition plays an important role in shaping spatio-temporal patterns of network activity. My presentation will summarize recent progress in understanding how defined local inhibitory circuits contribute to fear learning.