Switching on and off fear by distinct neuronal circuits

Cyril Herry, Stephane Ciocchi, Verena Senn, Lynda Demmou, Christian Müller, Andreas Lüthi
Nature. 2008-07-01; 454(7204): 600-606
DOI: 10.1038/nature07166

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1. Nature. 2008 Jul 31;454(7204):600-6. doi: 10.1038/nature07166. Epub 2008 Jul 9.

Switching on and off fear by distinct neuronal circuits.

Herry C(1), Ciocchi S, Senn V, Demmou L, Müller C, Lüthi A.

Author information:
(1)Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Maulbeerstrasse 66,
CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland.

Comment in
Nature. 2008 Jul 31;454(7204):589-90.

Switching between exploratory and defensive behaviour is fundamental to survival
of many animals, but how this transition is achieved by specific neuronal
circuits is not known. Here, using the converse behavioural states of fear
extinction and its context-dependent renewal as a model in mice, we show that
bi-directional transitions between states of high and low fear are triggered by a
rapid switch in the balance of activity between two distinct populations of basal
amygdala neurons. These two populations are integrated into discrete neuronal
circuits differentially connected with the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal
cortex. Targeted and reversible neuronal inactivation of the basal amygdala
prevents behavioural changes without affecting memory or expression of behaviour.
Our findings indicate that switching between distinct behavioural states can be
triggered by selective activation of specific neuronal circuits integrating
sensory and contextual information. These observations provide a new framework
for understanding context-dependent changes of fear behaviour.

DOI: 10.1038/nature07166
PMID: 18615015 [Indexed for MEDLINE]


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