Fear learning transiently impairs hippocampal cell proliferation

K. Pham, B. S. McEwen, J. E. Ledoux, K. Nader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We sought to determine whether contextual fear conditioning, a hippocampal-dependent task, would affect neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, and if so, to identify which aspect of the training experience accounts for the change. The immediate shock deficit paradigm was used, together with bromodeoxyuridine immunohistochemistry, to isolate the contribution of different aspects of contextual fear conditioning to neurogenesis. Contextual fear learning caused a 33% decrease in the number of proliferating cells that was anatomically restricted to the dentate gyrus with no change in cell survival or differentiation. This attenuation was not related to exposure to the conditioned stimulus alone, the footshock unconditioned stimulus alone, or the expression of fear to the context after training. Instead, the effect of context conditioning on cell proliferation appears to be specifically due to the formation of an association between the context and shock during training, an amygdala dependent function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • amygdala
  • dentate gyrus
  • hippocampus
  • immediate shock deficit
  • neurogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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