The lateral habenula (LHb) encodes aversive information. However, there is little understanding of how the information provided by the LHb influences learning and memory processes. Fear conditioning (FC) is probably the best understood model of aversive associative learning. Thus, FC constitutes a good behavioral paradigm to analyze LHb function in associative learning. In the present work we studied in rats the effect of interfering with neuronal activity of the LHb on FC using optogenetics and pharmacological tools. We found that exciting or inhibiting the LHb during training, abolishes independent expression of contextual and cued memories, yet memory is normally expressed when the cue is played in the training context. Our results reveal that the formation of independent cued and contextual FC memories requires intact signaling by the LHb assigning to this structure a previously uncharacterized integrative role in brain circuits required for FC learning.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience