Pavlovian Fear Conditioning Activates a Common Pattern of Neurons in the Lateral Amygdala of Individual Brains
Understanding the physical encoding of a memory (the engram) is a fundamental question in neuroscience. Although it has been established that the lateral amygdala is a key site for encoding associative fear memory, it is currently unclear whether the spatial distribution of neurons encoding a given memory is random or stable. Here we used spatial principal components analysis to quantify the topography of activated neurons, in a select region of the lateral amygdala, from rat brains encoding a Pavlovian conditioned fear memory. Our results demonstrate a stable, spatially patterned organization of amygdala neurons are activated during the formation of a Pavlovian conditioned fear memory. We suggest that this stable neuronal assembly constitutes a spatial dimension of the engram.