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J Neurosci. 2014 Feb 12;34(7):2432-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4166-13.2014.

Fear conditioning potentiates synaptic transmission onto long-range projection neurons in the lateral subdivision of central amygdala.

Author information

1
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724.

Abstract

Recent studies indicate that the lateral subdivision of the central amygdala (CeL) is essential for fear learning. Specifically, fear conditioning induces cell-type-specific synaptic plasticity in CeL neurons that is required for the storage of fear memories. The CeL also controls fear expression by gating the activity of the medial subdivision of the central amygdala (CeM), the canonical amygdala output to areas that mediate defensive responses. In addition to the connection with CeM, the CeL sends long-range projections to innervate extra-amygdala areas. However, the long-range projection CeL neurons have not been well characterized, and their role in fear regulation is unknown. Here we show in mice that a subset of CeL neurons directly project to the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) and the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus, two brain areas implicated in defensive behavior. These long-range projection CeL neurons are predominantly somatostatin-positive (SOM(+)) neurons, which can directly inhibit PAG neurons, and some of which innervate both the PAG and paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus. Notably, fear conditioning potentiates excitatory synaptic transmission onto these long-range projection CeL neurons. Thus, our study identifies a subpopulation of SOM(+) CeL neurons that may contribute to fear learning and regulate fear expression independent of CeM.

KEYWORDS:

central amygdala; connectivity; fear conditioning; synaptic plasticity

PMID:
24523533
PMCID:
PMC3921418
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4166-13.2014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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