Strain and substrain differences in context- and tone-dependent fear conditioning of inbred mice

Oliver Stiedl, Jelena Radulovic, Ragna Lohmann, Karin Birkenfeld, Markki Palve, Jens Kammermeier, Farahnaz Sananbenesi, Joachim Spiess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


The performance of C57BL/6J (6J), C57BL/6N (6N), DBA/2J (2J) and DBA/2N (2N) mice in context- and tone-dependent fear conditioning was determined 24 h after fear conditioning to evaluate and compare different behavioral measures as indices of emotional learning. Freezing, the change in activity and the size of the explored area were evaluated as behavioral parameters indicating fear. Additionally, the heart rate (HR) increase elicited by tone presentation was evaluated as an autonomic indicator of fear. During the context-dependent memory test, freezing was high only in 6J and 6N mice, whereas a drop of activity and a reduced exploratory area was measured in all strains. During the tone-dependent memory test, high freezing, low activity, reduced exploratory area and a strong HR increase were demonstrated only in 6N and 6J mice, whereas behavioral and HR changes of 2J and 2N mice were always low. In extinction tests, context- and tone-dependent freezing of 6J mice decayed significantly faster than the freezing of 6N mice, whereas in both substrains the conditioned tachycardia to tone extinguished similarly in the home cage. The data demonstrate that monitoring of additional behavioral measures besides freezing and autonomic measures is necessary to interpret differences in associative learning performance of mouse strains that could be related to a differential expression of fear. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory fear conditioning
  • C57BL/6J
  • C57BL/6N
  • Contextual fear conditioning
  • DBA/2J
  • DBA/2N
  • Heart rate
  • Strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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