Modern views on learning and memory accept the notion of biological constraints—that the formation of association is not uniform across all stimuli. Yet cellular evidence of the encoding of selective associations is lacking. Here, conditioned stimuli (CSs) and unconditioned stimuli (USs) commonly employed in two basic associative learning paradigms, fear conditioning and taste aversion conditioning, were delivered in a manner compatible with a functional cellular imaging technique (Arc cellular compartmental analysis of temporal gene transcription by fluorescence in situ hybridization [catFISH]) to identify biological constraints on CS–US convergence at the level of neurons in basolateral amygdala (BLA). Results indicate coincident Arc mRNA activation within BLA neurons after CS–US combinations that yield rapid, efficient learning, but not after CS–US combinations that do not
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