You are designing an experiment to test if you can alleviate learned fear responses to a particular context. Your mouse has been fear conditioned by being presented with a predator odor in a particular environment. You notice that even after the predator odor has been removed, the mouse exhibits fearful behaviors when placed into this context. Your experiment aims at testing if by inactivating certain neuronal populations, you could decrease these fear responses.
a) Describe a mechanism by which contextual information could trigger the odor-related fear response.
b) Explain why similar, but not dissimilar contexts would induce fear response also.
c) Decide in which brain area you would make an intervention and explain why.
d) Briefly explain how you could use optogenetics to specifically inhibit neurons involved in this contextual fear response.
e) How would a change in chloride concentrations in the extracellular space in the brain affect your experiment and in what direction?
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