Newborn neurons in the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the hippocampus incorporate into the dentate gyrus and mature. Numerous studies have focused on hippocampal neurogenesis because of its importance in learning and memory. However, it is largely unknown whether hippocampal neurogenesis is involved in memory extinction per se. Here, we sought to examine the possibility that hippocampal neurogenesis may play a critical role in the formation and extinction of hippocampus-dependent contextual fear memory. By methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM) or gamma-ray irradiation, hippocampal neurogenesis was impaired in adult mice. Under our experimental conditions, only a severe impairment of hippocampal neurogenesis inhibited the formation of contextual fear memory. However, the extinction of contextual fear memory was not affected. These results suggest that although adult newborn neurons contribute to contextual fear memory, they may not be involved in the extinction or erasure of hippocampus-dependent contextual fear memory.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Woojoo Lee for statistical advice. This research was supported by a grant from National Creative Research Initiative (to B-KK) and by a grant from the Brain Research Center of the Frontier Research Program (to HS). H-GK and D-JJ are supported by BK21 fellowship.