Oxytocin signaling in basolateral and central amygdala nuclei differentially regulates the acquisition, expression, and extinction of context-conditioned fear in rats.Learn Mem. 2015 May; 22(5):247-57.LM
The present study investigated how oxytocin (OT) signaling in the central (CeA) and basolateral (BLA) amygdala affects acquisition, expression, and extinction of context-conditioned fear (freezing) in rats. In the first set of experiments, acquisition of fear to a shocked context was impaired by a preconditioning infusion of synthetic OT into the CeA (Experiment 1) or BLA (Experiment 2). In the second set of experiments, expression of context fear was enhanced by a pre- or post-extinction CeA infusion of synthetic OT (Experiments 3-6) or a selective OT receptor agonist, TGOT (Experiment 4). This enhancement of fear was blocked by coadministration of an OT receptor antagonist, OTA (Experiment 5) and context fear was suppressed by administration of the antagonist alone (Experiment 6). In the third set of experiments, expression of context fear was suppressed, not enhanced, by a preextinction BLA infusion of synthetic OT or a selective OT receptor agonist, TGOT (Experiments 7 and 8). This suppression of fear was blocked by coadministration of the OT receptor antagonist, OTA (Experiment 8). Taken together, these findings show that the involvement of the CeA and BLA in expression and extinction of context-conditioned fear is dissociable, and imply a critical role for oxytocin signaling in amygdala-based regulation of aversive learning.