Nonlinear developmental trajectory of fear learning and memory

Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.38). 10/2013; DOI: 10.1111/nyas.12280
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The transition into and out of adolescence is a unique developmental period during which neuronal circuits are particularly susceptible to modification by experience. Adolescence is associated with an increased incidence of anxiety disorders in humans, and an estimated 75% of adults with fear-related disorders met diagnostic criteria as children and adolescents. Conserved neural circuitry of rodents and humans has facilitated neurodevelopmental studies of behavioral and molecular processes associated with fear learning and memory that lie at the heart of many anxiety disorders. Here, we review the nonlinear developmental aspects of fear learning and memory during a transition period into and out of adolescence and provide a discussion of the molecular mechanisms that may underlie these alterations in behavior. We provide a model that may help to inform novel treatment strategies for children and adolescents with fear-related disorders.

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    ABSTRACT: The fornix is a part of the limbic system and constitutes the major efferent and afferent white matter tracts from the hippocampi. The underdevelopment of or injuries to the fornix are strongly associated with memory deficits. Its role in memory impairments was suggested long ago with cases of surgical forniceal transections. However, recent advances in brain imaging techniques, such as diffusion tensor imaging have revealed that macrostructural and microstructural abnormalities of the fornix correlated highly with declarative and episodic memory performance. This structure appears to provide a robust and early imaging predictor for memory deficits not only in neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, but also in schizophrenia and psychiatric disorders, and during neurodevelopment and “typical” aging. The objective of the manuscript is to present a systematic review regarding published brain imaging research on the fornix, including the development of its tracts, its role in various neurological diseases, and its relationship to neurocognitive performance in human studies.
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May 21, 2014