Structural synaptic changes occur in medial prefrontal cortex circuits during remote memory formation. Whether extinction reverts or further reshapes these circuits is, however, unknown. Here we show that the number and the size of spines were enhanced in anterior cingulate (aCC) and infralimbic (ILC) cortices 36 d following contextual fear conditioning. Upon extinction, aCC spine density returned to baseline, but the enhanced proportion of large spines did not. Differently, ILC spine density remained elevated, but the size of spines decreased dramatically. Thus, extinction partially erases the remote memory network, suggesting that the preserved network properties might sustain reactivation of extinguished conditioned fear.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology