Hippocampus and amygdala fear memory engrams re-emerge after contextual fear relapse

Yosif Zaki, William Mau, Christine Cincotta, Amy Monasterio, Emma Odom, Emily Doucette, Stephanie L. Grella, Emily Merfeld, Monika Shpokayte, Steve Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The formation and extinction of fear memories represent two forms of learning that each engage the hippocampus and amygdala. How cell populations in these areas contribute to fear relapse, however, remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that, in male mice, cells active during fear conditioning in the dentate gyrus of hippocampus exhibit decreased activity during extinction and are re-engaged after contextual fear relapse. In vivo calcium imaging reveals that relapse drives population dynamics in the basolateral amygdala to revert to a network state similar to the state present during fear conditioning. Finally, we find that optogenetic inactivation of neuronal ensembles active during fear conditioning in either the hippocampus or amygdala is sufficient to disrupt fear expression after relapse, while optogenetic stimulation of these same ensembles after extinction is insufficient to artificially mimic fear relapse. These results suggest that fear relapse triggers a partial re-emergence of the original fear memory representation, providing new insight into the neural substrates of fear relapse.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Oct 2022


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