Electrolytic lesions of the dorsal hippocampus disrupt renewal of conditional fear after extinction
There is a growing body of evidence that the hippocampus is critical for context-dependent memory retrieval. In the present study, we used Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats to examine the role of the dorsal hippocampus (DH) in the context-specific expression of fear memory after extinction (i.e., renewal). Pre-training electrolytic lesions of the DH blunted the expression of conditional freezing to an auditory conditional stimulus (CS), but did not affect the acquisition of extinction to that CS. In contrast, DH lesions impaired the context-specific expression of extinction, eliminating the renewal of fear normally observed to a CS presented outside of the extinction context. Post-extinction DH lesions also eliminated the context dependence of fear extinction. These results are consistent with those using pharmacological inactivation of the DH and suggest that the DH is required for using contextual stimuli to regulate the expression of fear to a Pavlovian CS after extinction.