How does a stimulus never associated with danger become frightening? The present study addressed this question using a sensory preconditioning task with rats. In this task, rats integrate a sound-light memory formed in stage 1 with a light-danger memory formed in stage 2, as they show fear when tested with the sound in stage 3. Here we show that this integration occurs 'online' during stage 2: when activity in the region that consolidated the sound-light memory (perirhinal cortex) was inhibited during formation of the light-danger memory, rats no longer showed fear when tested with the sound but continued to fear the light. Thus, fear that accrues to a stimulus paired with danger simultaneously spreads to its past associates, thereby roping those associates into a fear memory network.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 1, 2, 4 and 5.
- Nathan M Holmes
- Nathan M Holmes
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the guidelines published by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. All of the animals were handled according to approved Animal Care and Ethics Committee (ACEC) protocols at the University of New South Wales (Permit Number: ACEC 17/139A). All surgery was performed under ketamine-xylazine induced anesthesia, and every effort was made to minimize suffering.
- Thorsten Kahnt, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, United States
© 2019, Wong et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
To decide whether a course of action is worth pursuing, individuals typically weigh its expected costs and benefits. Optimal decision-making relies upon accurate effort cost anticipation, which is generally assumed to be performed independently from goal valuation. In two experiments (n = 46), we challenged this independence principle of standard decision theory. We presented participants with a series of treadmill routes randomly associated to monetary rewards and collected both ‘accept’ versus ‘decline’ decisions and subjective estimates of energetic cost. Behavioural results show that higher monetary prospects led participants to provide higher cost estimates, although reward was independent from effort in our design. Among candidate cognitive explanations, they support a model in which prospective cost assessment is biased by the output of an automatic computation adjusting effort expenditure to goal value. This decision bias might lead people to abandon the pursuit of valuable goals that are in fact not so costly to achieve.
Synaptic communication relies on the fusion of synaptic vesicles with the plasma membrane, which leads to neurotransmitter release. This exocytosis is triggered by brief and local elevations of intracellular Ca2+ with remarkably high sensitivity. How this is molecularly achieved is unknown. While synaptotagmins confer the Ca2+ sensitivity of neurotransmitter exocytosis, biochemical measurements reported Ca2+ affinities too low to account for synaptic function. However, synaptotagmin's Ca2+ affinity increases upon binding the plasma membrane phospholipid PI(4,5)P2 and, vice versa, Ca2+-binding increases synaptotagmin's PI(4,5)P2 affinity, indicating a stabilization of the Ca2+/PI(4,5)P2 dual-bound syt. Here we devise a molecular exocytosis model based on this positive allosteric stabilization and the assumptions that (1.) synaptotagmin Ca2+/PI(4,5)P2 dual binding lowers the energy barrier for vesicle fusion and that (2.) the effect of multiple synaptotagmins on the energy barrier is additive. The model, which relies on biochemically measured Ca2+/PI(4,5)P2 affinities and protein copy numbers, reproduced the steep Ca2+ dependency of neurotransmitter release. Our results indicate that each synaptotagmin dual binding Ca2+/PI(4,5)P2 lowers the energy barrier for vesicle fusion by ~5 kBT and that allosteric stabilization of this state enables the synchronized engagement of several (typically three) synaptotagmins for fast exocytosis. Furthermore, we show that mutations altering synaptotagmin’s allosteric properties may show dominant-negative effects, even though synaptotagmins act independently on the energy barrier, and that dynamic changes of local PI(4,5)P2 (e.g. upon vesicle movement) dramatically impact synaptic responses. We conclude that allosterically stabilized Ca2+/PI(4,5)P2 dual binding enables synaptotagmins to exert their coordinated function in neurotransmission.