Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Behavioral Neuroscience

Content Description

1 online resource (xi, 161 pages) : color illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Andrew M Poulos

Committee Members

Christine K Wagner, Bruce C Dudek, Arshad M Khan


Amygdala, Development, Hippocampus, Learning and Memory, Neuroanatomy, Prefrontal Cortex, Fear, Fear in animals, Amygdaloid body, Hippocampus (Brain), Rats, Neural circuitry

Subject Categories

Developmental Biology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The contextual fear circuit, centered on the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA), is comprised of projections from the hippocampal formation and prefrontal cortex, and mediates an animals ability to learn and predict associations between the environment and biologically relevant stimuli. While the function and structure of this circuit has been well characterized in adult species, relatively little is known about its development as an animal transitions from infancy to adulthood. Recent evidence has begun to suggest that infants, juveniles, and adolescents may show remarkable heterogeneity in the behavioral, activational, and structural properties of the circuit. In this thesis, I describe the ontogeny of the contextual fear neural circuit, in regard to its connectional, and activational patterns as rats learn and retrieve contextual fear memories throughout infant, juvenile, adolescent, and adult developmental epochs.