Differential role of the medial and lateral prefrontal cortices in fear and anxiety

Laurent Lacroix, Simona Spinelli, Christian A. Heidbreder, Joram Feldon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the rat, both the medial and lateral prefrontal cortices (PFC; mPFC and IPFC, respectively) have direct connections with limbic structures that are important in the expression of fear and anxiety. The present study investigated the behavioral effects of excitotoxic lesions of either the mPFC or the IPFC on conditioned and unconditioned fear paradigms. In both unconditioned fear paradigms (open field, elevated plus-maze), lesions of the mPFC decreased anxiety. In fear conditioning, IPFC lesions substantially increased freezing throughout the different phases of the experiment, whereas mPFC lesions increased freezing to contextual cues and showed reduced freezing to discrete cues. These results support the functional role of the PFC in mediating or modulating central states of fear and anxiety and suggest a functional dissociation between the IPFC and mPFC in their role in fear and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1130
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential role of the medial and lateral prefrontal cortices in fear and anxiety'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this