Inappropriate fear expression and failure of fear extinction are commonly seen in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Among the patients, aberrant and asymmetric activation of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC) is reported in some clinical cases. In this study, we aimed to examine the role of lOFC activation in extinction acquisition and explore the potential functional lateralization of lOFC on extinction. We bilaterally or unilaterally activated the lOFC with N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) before fear extinction acquisition in rats. Our data suggested that both left and bilateral lOFC activation interfered with the in-session expression of conditioned fear, whereas activation of the right lOFC did not. In addition, pre-extinction unilateral or bilateral activation of the lOFC, regardless of the side, impaired the acquisition of fear extinction. We also quantified the neuronal activities during the late phase of extinction with immunohistochemical approach. Our data showed that activation of the lOFC increased the neuronal activities on the injection side(s) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the lateral amygdala (LA), the basolateral amygdala (BLA; preferentially the non-GABAergic neurons), and the medial intercalated cells (mITC; preferentially the right side). To conclude, aberrant activation of the lOFC during extinction disturbed the excitatory/inhibitory balance of neuronal activities in fear-related brain regions, which interfered with the expression of conditioned fear and impaired the acquisition of fear extinction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- 神經科學 (全部)