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Psychology & Neuroscience

On-line version ISSN 1983-3288


SANTOS, Julia Maria dos  and  BRANDAO, Marcus Lira. Gabaergic mechanisms of anterior and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei in the expression of freezing in response to a light-conditioned stimulus. Psychol. Neurosci. [online]. 2011, vol.4, n.2, pp.211-217. ISSN 1983-3288.

The amygdala, dorsal periaqueductal gray (dPAG), and medial hypothalamus have long been recognized to comprise a neural system responsible for the generation and elaboration of unconditioned fear in the brain. This neural substrate is well known to be under tonic inhibitory control exerted by γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) mechanisms. Some evidence also suggests that these structures integrate conditioned fear. A recent study using the fear-potentiated startle paradigm showed that GABAergic mechanisms in the anterior hypothalamic nucleus (AHN) and dorsomedial part of the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMHDM) regulate conditioned fear. The present study examined the extent to which GABAergic mechanisms in these brain regions are involved in conditioned fear by measuring freezing in response to a light used as a conditioned stimulus (CS). The GABAA receptor agonist muscimol and the GABA-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase inhibitor semicarbazide were used as an enhancer and inhibitor of GABA mechanisms, respectively. Muscimol and semicarbazide were injected into the AHN or VMHDM of rats before fear conditioning. Muscimol injections into the AHN and VMHDM significantly reduced conditioned freezing, whereas inhibition of GABA transmission increased this conditioned response in the AHN. The present study further supports the hypothesis that GABAergic mechanisms in the AHN and VMHDM exert inhibitory control on the neural substrates of conditioned fear in the hypothalamus.

Keywords : ventromedial hypothalamus; anterior hypothalamus; freezing; GABA.

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