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Science. 2005 Apr 8;308(5719):245-8.

Vasopressin and oxytocin excite distinct neuronal populations in the central amygdala.

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Department of Cellular Biology and Morphology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.


Vasopressin and oxytocin strongly modulate autonomic fear responses, through mechanisms that are still unclear. We describe how these neuropeptides excite distinct neuronal populations in the central amygdala, which provides the major output of the amygdaloid complex to the autonomic nervous system. We identified these two neuronal populations as part of an inhibitory network, through which vasopressin and oxytocin modulate the integration of excitatory information from the basolateral amygdala and cerebral cortex in opposite manners. Through this network, the expression and endogenous activation of vasopressin and oxytocin receptors may regulate the autonomic expression of fear.

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