Roles of NMDA NR2B subtype receptor in prefrontal long-term potentiation and contextual fear memory

Cortical plasticity is thought to be important for the establishment, consolidation, and retrieval of permanent memory. Hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP), a cellular mechanism of learning and memory, requires the activation of glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. In particular, it has been suggested that NR2A-containing NMDA receptors are involved in LTP induction, whereas NR2B-containing receptors are involved in LTD induction in the hippocampus. However, LTP in the prefrontal cortex is less well characterized than in the hippocampus. Here we report that the activation of the NR2B and NR2A subunits of the NMDA receptor is critical for the induction of cingulate LTP, regardless of the induction protocol. Furthermore, pharmacological or genetic blockade of the NR2B subunit in the cingulate cortex impaired the formation of early contextual fear memory. Our results demonstrate that the NR2B subunit of the NMDA receptor in the prefrontal cortex is critically involved in both LTP and contextual memory.