Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 232, Issue 5, pp 1535–1545 | Cite as

Dorsal subcoeruleus nucleus (SubCD) involvement in context-associated fear memory consolidation

  • Donald F. Siwek
  • Clifford M. Knapp
  • Gurcharan Kaur
  • Subimal Datta
Research Article


The neurobiological mechanisms of emotional memory processing can be investigated using classical fear conditioning as a model system, and evidence from multiple lines of research suggests that sleep influences consolidation of emotional memory. In rodents, some of this evidence comes from a common finding that sleep deprivation from 0 to 6 h after fear conditioning training impairs processing of conditioned fear memory. Here, we show that during a 6-h session of sleep–wake (S–W) recording, immediately after a session of context-associated fear conditioning training, rats spent more time in wakefulness (W) and less time in slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This context-associated fear conditioning training-induced reduction in SWS lasts for 2 h, and the REM sleep reduction lasts throughout the entire 6-h post-training S–W recording period. Interestingly, these reductions in SWS and REM sleep during this 6-h period did not impair memory consolidation for context-associated fear conditioning. The results of this study show, for the first time, that lesions within the dorsal part of the subcoeruleus nucleus (SubCD), which were unintentionally caused by the implantation of bipolar recording electrodes, impair consolidation of context-associated fear conditioning memory. Together, the results of these experiments suggest that emotional memory processing associated with fear conditioning can be completed successfully within less than a normal amount of sleep, but it requires a structurally and functionally intact SubCD, an area in the brain stem where phasic pontine wave (P-wave) generating cells are located.


Fear conditioning Memory consolidation Wakefulness Slow-wave sleep REM sleep Subcoeruleus nucleus 



This study was supported by Boston University School of Medicine and National Institute of Health Research Grant (MH59839). We thank Dr. D. A. Ciraulo and Dr. E. H. Patterson for critical reading and constructive suggestions to improve the quality of this manuscript. We also thank Matthew W. O’Malley for his technical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald F. Siwek
    • 1
    • 3
  • Clifford M. Knapp
    • 1
  • Gurcharan Kaur
    • 1
    • 4
  • Subimal Datta
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Sleep and Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of PsychiatryBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiotechnologyGuru Nanak Dev UniversityAmritsarIndia

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