The dorsal and ventral subregions of the hippocampus likely play dissociable roles in some forms of learning. For example, we have previously demonstrated that temporary inactivation of ventral, but not dorsal, hippocampus dramatically impaired the acquisition of trace fear conditioning, while temporary inactivation of dorsal, but not ventral, hippocampus impaired spatially guided reinforced alternation (Czerniawski et al. (2009) Hippocampus 19:20-32). Importantly, emerging data suggest that lesions, temporary inactivation, and NMDA receptor antagonism within these subregions can produce quite different patterns of behavioral effects when administered into the same region. Specifically, while neither lesions nor temporary inactivation of dorsal hippocampus impair the acquisition of trace fear conditioning, learning in this paradigm is severely impaired by pre-training administration of the NMDA receptor antagonist dl-2-phosphonovaleric acid (APV) in dorsal hippocampus; the effect of NMDA receptor antagonism within ventral hippocampus on the acquisition and expression of trace conditioning, or on learning in general, has not yet been systematically explored. The present study extends our previous work examining the differential effect of lesions or inactivation of the dorsal and ventral hippocampal subregions by systematically examining the effect of regionally selective pre-training or pre-testing administration of APV on the acquisition and expression of trace and contextual fear conditioning. The results of these studies demonstrate that while pre-training NMDA receptor antagonism within either the dorsal or ventral subregion of the hippocampus impaired the acquisition of both trace and contextual conditioning, pre-testing NMDA receptor antagonism within ventral, but not dorsal, hippocampus impaired the expression of previously-acquired trace and contextual fear conditioning. These data suggest that selectively manipulating the integrity of individual subregions may result in compensatory mechanisms that can support learning, and that NMDA-dependent plasticity within both dorsal and ventral hippocampus is normally required for the acquisition and maintenance of memory in trace and contextual fear conditioning.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Associative learning
- Fear conditioning
- Neuronal plasticity