GABAAreceptors containing the α5 subunit mediate the trace effect in aversive and appetitive conditioning and extinction of conditioned fear

Kay Yan Benjamin Yee, Jonas Hauser, Vadim V. Dolgov, Ruth Keist, Hanns Möhler, Uwe Rudolph, Joram Feldon

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

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A reduction in α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)Areceptors has been reported to enhance some forms of learning in mutant mouse models. This effect has been attributed to impaired α5 GABAAreceptor-mediated inhibitory modulation in the hippocampus. The introduction of a point mutation (H105R) in the α5 subunit is associated with a specific reduction of α5 subunit-containing GABAAreceptors in the hippocampus. The present study examined the modulation of associative learning and the extinction of conditioned response in these animals. The strength of classical conditioning can be weakened when a trace interval is interposed between the conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus. Here we report that this 'trace effect' in classical conditioning was absent in the mutant mice - they were insensitive to the imposition of a 20-s trace interval. This effect of the mutation was most clearly in the female mice using an aversive conditioning paradigm, and in the male mice using an appetitive conditioning paradigm. These gender-specific phenotypes were accompanied by a resistance to extinction of conditioned fear response in the mutant mice that was apparent in both genders. Our results identify neuronal inhibition in the hippocampus mediated via α5 GABAAreceptors as a critical control element in the regulation of the acquisition and expression of associative memory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1928-1936
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Extinction
  • GABA
  • Hippocampus
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Trace conditioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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