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Coherent amygdalocortical theta promotes fear memory consolidation during paradoxical sleep

Daniela Popa, Sevil Duvarci, Andrei T. Popescu, Clément Léna, and Denis Paré

Brain activity in sleep plays a crucial role in memory consolidation, an offline process that determines the long-term strength of memory traces. Consolidation efficacy differs across individuals, but the brain activity dynamics underlying these differences remain unknown. Here, we studied how interindividual variability in fear memory consolidation relates to neural activity in brain structures that participate in Pavlovian fear learning. From the end of training to testing 24 h later, some rats showed increased and others decreased conditioned fear responses. We found that overnight bidirectional changes in fear memory were selectively correlated with modifications in theta coherence between the amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus during paradoxical sleep. Thus, our results suggest that theta coordination in the limbic system may influence interindividual differences in memory consolidation of aversive experiences.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 6 ;107(14):6516-9.