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Genes Brain Behav. 2016 Jan;15(1):125-43. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12255. Epub 2015 Oct 20.

Plasticity-related genes in brain development and amygdala-dependent learning.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, Neuroscience Institute, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.
2
Department of Otolaryngology, NYU Langone School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
3
Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
5
Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
6
Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Abstract

Learning about motivationally important stimuli involves plasticity in the amygdala, a temporal lobe structure. Amygdala-dependent learning involves a growing number of plasticity-related signaling pathways also implicated in brain development, suggesting that learning-related signaling in juveniles may simultaneously influence development. Here, we review the pleiotropic functions in nervous system development and amygdala-dependent learning of a signaling pathway that includes brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), extracellular signaling-related kinases (ERKs) and cyclic AMP-response element binding protein (CREB). Using these canonical, plasticity-related genes as an example, we discuss the intersection of learning-related and developmental plasticity in the immature amygdala, when aversive and appetitive learning may influence the developmental trajectory of amygdala function. We propose that learning-dependent activation of BDNF, ERK and CREB signaling in the immature amygdala exaggerates and accelerates neural development, promoting amygdala excitability and environmental sensitivity later in life.

KEYWORDS:

Amygdala; BDNF; CREB; ERK; GABA; critical period; development; excitability; learning and memory; plasticity

PMID:
26419764
DOI:
10.1111/gbb.12255
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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