Stress enhances fear by forming new synapses with greater capacity for long-term potentiation in the amygdala

Tomar, Anupratap and Anilkumar, Shobha (2014) Stress enhances fear by forming new synapses with greater capacity for long-term potentiation in the amygdala. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 369 (1633). pp. 1-10. ISSN ‎0962-8436

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Prolonged and severe stress leads to cognitive deficits, but facilitates emotional behaviour. Little is known about the synaptic basis for this contrast. Here, we report that in rats subjected to chronic immobilization stress, long-term potentiation (LTP) and NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-mediated synaptic responses are enhanced in principal neurons of the lateral amygdala, a brain area involved in fear memory formation. This is accompanied by electrophysiological and morphological changes consistent with the formation of ‘silent synapses’, containing onlyNMDARs. In parallel, chronic stress also reduces synaptic inhibition.Together, these synaptic changes would enable amygdalar neurons to undergo further experience-dependent modifications, leading to stronger fear memories. Consistent with this prediction, stressed animals exhibit enhanced conditioned fear. Hence, stress may leave its mark in the amygdala by generating new synapses with greater capacity for plasticity, thereby creating an ideal neuronal substrate for affective disorders. These findings also highlight the unique features of stress-induced plasticity in the amygdala that are strikingly different from the stress-induced impairment of structure and function in the hippocampus.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Long-term potentiation; Neural plasticity; Emotion; NMDA receptors; Silent synapses; Dendritic spines
Subjects: Research > Research Center - Health Sciences
Depositing User: KMC Library
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2019 03:53
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2019 03:53

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