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The role of neurogranin in human contextual and cued fear conditioning

S. Pohlack, F. Nees, M. Ruttorf, S. Witt, V. Nieratschker, M. Rietschel, L. Schad and H. Flor

Neuroscience 2010 Abstracts,

Learning to differentiate dangerous from safe cues and contexts is an important ability for survival. Fear conditioning, as one prototypical model of learning, is moderately heritable (35-45%). Neurogranin/RC3 (NRGN), a gene found to be associated with schizophrenia is abundantly expressed in key regions of contextual learning and discrimination, such as the hippocampus, and it is further involved in the formation of spatial memory and long term potentiation in the CA1 region of the hippocampus. To date, imaging studies on cue or context conditioning and neurogranin do not exist. To investigate the potential role of neurogranin in fear conditioning, 107 healthy persons from an ongoing longitudinal study underwent cued and contextual fear conditioning in a 1.5T scanner and were genotyped for neurogranin. Our fMRI data indicate the involvement of the human neurogranin gene in the acquisition of contextual but not cued fear conditioning in healthy volunteers. The skin conductance responses support this interpretation, as do the arousal and contingency, but not the valence ratings. Hippocampal volumes did not differ significantly between the two genotype groups, suggesting an association of the human neurogranin gene on functional rather than structural properties of the hippocampus during contextual fear conditioning. Interestingly, the examined neurogranin SNP has been associated with schizophrenia in recent studies. Research on latent inhibition suggests that schizophrenic patients learn contingencies faster after an initial habituation and might thus help to understand this association.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Frank Zöllner last modified: 22.01.2019
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