Factors governing single-trial contextual fear conditioning in the weanling rat.Behav Neurosci. 2009 Oct; 123(5):1148-52.BN
Although contextual fear conditioning emerges later in development than explicit-cue fear conditioning, little is known about the stimulus parameters and biological substrates required at early ages. The authors adapted methods for investigating hippocampus function in adult rodents to identify determinants of contextual fear conditioning in developing rats. Experiment 1 examined the duration of exposure required by weanling rats at postnatal day (PND) 23 to demonstrate contextual fear conditioning. This experiment demonstrated that 30 s of context exposure is sufficient to support conditioning. Furthermore, preexposure enhanced conditioning to an immediate footshock, the context preexposure facilitation effect (CPFE), but had no effect on contextual conditioning to a delayed shock. Experiment 2 demonstrated that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor inactivation during preexposure impairs contextual learning at PND 23. Thus, the conjuctive representations underlying the CPFE are NMDA-dependent as early as PND23 in the rat.