Opposing effects of d-cycloserine on fear despite a common extinction duration: Interactions between brain regions and behavior

Scott S. Bolkan, K. Matthew Lattal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


A number of studies have reported that d-cycloserine (DCS), a partial agonist of the N-methyl-. d-aspartate glutamate receptor, can facilitate the loss of conditioned fear if it is administered during an extinction trial. Here we examine the effects of DCS injected into the hippocampus or amygdala on extinction of context-evoked freezing after contextual fear conditioning in C57BL/6 mice. We find that DCS administered prior to an extinction session decreased freezing from the outset of the session regardless of which brain region was targeted. Retention tests revealed opposite effects on fear expression despite identical behavioral treatments: intra-hippocampal DCS inhibited fear expression while intra-amygdala DCS potentiated fear expression. Following post-extinction session injections of DCS, we found a similar though less pronounced effect. Closer inspection of the data revealed that the effects of DCS interacted with the behavior of the subjects during extinction. Intra-hippocampal injections of DCS enhanced extinction in those mice that showed the greatest amount of within-session extinction, but had less pronounced effects on mice that showed the least within-session extinction. Intra-amygdala injections of DCS impaired extinction in those mice that showed the least within-session extinction, but there was some evidence that the effect in the amygdala did not depend on behavior during extinction. These findings demonstrate that even with identical extinction trial durations, the effects of DCS administered into the hippocampus and amygdala can heavily depend on the organism's behavior during the extinction session. The broader implication of these findings is that the effects of pharmacological treatments designed to enhance extinction by targeting hippocampal or amygdalar processes may depend on the responsivity of the subject to the behavioral treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Amygdala
  • Consolidation
  • D-Cycloserine
  • Extinction
  • Fear
  • Hippocampus
  • Reconsolidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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