Npas4a expression in the teleost forebrain is associated with stress coping style differences in fear learning

Matthew R. Baker, Ryan Y. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Learning to anticipate potentially dangerous contexts is an adaptive behavioral response to coping with stressors. An animal’s stress coping style (e.g. proactive–reactive axis) is known to influence how it encodes salient events. However, the neural and molecular mechanisms underlying these stress coping style differences in learning are unknown. Further, while a number of neuroplasticity-related genes have been associated with alternative stress coping styles, it is unclear if these genes may bias the development of conditioned behavioral responses to stressful stimuli, and if so, which brain regions are involved. Here, we trained adult zebrafish to associate a naturally aversive olfactory cue with a given context. Next, we investigated if expression of two neural plasticity and neurotransmission-related genes (npas4a and gabbr1a) were associated with the contextual fear conditioning differences between proactive and reactive stress coping styles. Reactive zebrafish developed a stronger conditioned fear response and showed significantly higher npas4a expression in the medial and lateral zones of the dorsal telencephalon (Dm, Dl), and the supracommissural nucleus of the ventral telencephalon (Vs). Our findings suggest that the expression of activity-dependent genes like npas4a may be differentially expressed across several interconnected forebrain regions in response to fearful stimuli and promote biases in fear learning among different stress coping styles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12074
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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