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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.01244

An emergent discriminative learning is elicited during multifrequency testing

 Xingui Zhang1 and Zhongju Xiao1*
  • 1Southern Medical University, China

In auditory-conditioned fear learning, the freezing response is independent of the sound frequencies used, but the frequency of the conditioned sound is considered distinct from those of unrelated sounds based on electrophysiological responses in the auditory system. Whether an emergent discriminative learning underlies auditory fear conditioning and which nuclei and pathways are involved in it remain unclear. Using behavioral and electrophysiological assays, we found that the response of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) neurons to a conditioned auditory stimulus (CS) was enhanced relative to the response to unrelated frequencies (UFs) after auditory fear conditioning, and mice could distinguish the CS during multifrequency testing, a phenomenon called emergent discriminative learning. After silencing the mPFC with muscimol, emergent discriminative learning was blocked. In addition, the pure tone responses of mPFC neurons were inhibited after injection of lidocaine in the ipsilateral primary auditory cortex (A1), and the emergent discriminative learning was blocked by silencing both sides of A1 with muscimol. This study, therefore, provides evidence for an emergent discriminative learning mediated by mPFC and A1 neurons after auditory fear conditioning.

Keywords: medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), primary auditory cortex (A1), Pure tone, Auditory fear conditioning, emergent discriminative learning

Received: 02 Apr 2019; Accepted: 04 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Zhang and Xiao. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Zhongju Xiao, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China, xiaozj@fimmu.com