Background: Memory consolidation is a process to stabilize short-term memory, generating long-term memory. A critical biochemical feature of memory consolidation is a requirement for gene expression. Previous studies have shown that fear memories are consolidated through the activation of gene expression in the amygdala and hippocampus, indicating essential roles of these brain regions in memory formation. However, it is still poorly understood whether gene expression in brain regions other than the amygdala/hippocampus is required for the consolidation of fear memory; however, several brain regions are known to play modulatory roles in fear memory formation. Results: To further understand the mechanisms underlying the formation of fear memory, we first identified brain regions where gene expression is activated after learning inhibitory avoidance (IA) by analyzing the expression of the immediately early genes c-fos and Arc as markers. Similarly with previous findings, the induction of c-fos and Arc expression was observed in the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, we also observed the induction of c-fos and Arc expression in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC: prelimbic (PL) and infralimbic (IL) regions) and Arc expression in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). We next examined the roles of these brain regions in the consolidation of IA memory. Consistent with previous findings, inhibiting protein synthesis in the hippocampus blocked the consolidation of IA memory. More importantly, inhibition in the mPFC or ACC also blocked the formation of IA memory. Conclusion: Our observations indicated that the formation of IA memory requires gene expression in the ACC and mPFC as well as in the amygdala and hippocampus, suggesting essential roles of the ACC and mPFC in IA memory formation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience