Ketamine administration disturbs behavioural and distributed neural correlates of fear conditioning in the rat
Pietersen CY, Bosker FJ, Postema F,
Fokkema DS, Korf J, den Boer JA.
Graduate School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience,
Department of Psychiatry,
University Medical Centre Groningen,
University of Groningen,
Groningen 9713GZ, The Netherlands.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Sep 30;30(7):1209-1


The neurotransmitter glutamate and its associated receptors perform an important role in the brain circuitry underlying normal fear processing. The glutamate NMDA receptor, in particular, is necessary for the acquisition and recollection of conditioned-fear responses. Here the authors examine how acute blockage of the NMDA receptor with sub-anaesthetic doses of ketamine affects behavioural assays of fear-conditioned stress (e.g. freezing) and cFos expression in a network of brain areas that have previously been implicated in fear processing. Fear-conditioned rats displayed significantly more freezing behaviour than non-conditioned controls. In fear-conditioned rats that also received ketamine, this conditioning effect was largely neutralised. Fear conditioning also led to increased cFos expression in various areas central to fear processing, including the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala, the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and the anterior cingulate. Ketamine abolished such increases in cFos expression in most brain areas investigated. The present study therefore demonstrates that systemic ketamine administration in rats interferes with fear conditioning on a behavioural level and in a network of brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. The combination of ketamine and fear conditioning may therefore provide a useful model of abnormal fear processing, as observed in certain psychiatric conditions.

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