Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Elife. 2017 Jun 13;6. pii: e24080. doi: 10.7554/eLife.24080.

Freezing suppression by oxytocin in central amygdala allows alternate defensive behaviours and mother-pup interactions.

Author information

1
Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, LIsboa, Portugal.
2
Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, United States.
3
Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, New York University School of Medicine, New York, United States.
4
Emotional Brain Institute, Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, New York, United States.
5
New York University Child Study Center, New York University School of Medicine, New York, United States.
6
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York, United States.

Abstract

When animals and their offspring are threatened, parents switch from self-defense to offspring protection. How self-defense is suppressed remains elusive. We postulated that suppression of the self-defense response, freezing, is gated via oxytocin acting in the centro-lateral amygdala (CeL). We found that rat dams conditioned to fear an odor, froze when tested alone, whereas if pups were present, they remained in close contact with them or targeted the threat. Furthermore, blocking oxytocin signaling in the CeL prevented the suppression of maternal freezing. Finally, pups exposed to the odor in the presence of the conditioned dam later froze when re-exposed alone. However, if oxytocin signaling in the dam had been blocked, pups failed to learn. This study provides a functional role for the well-described action of oxytocin in the central amygdala, and demonstrates that self-defense suppression allows for active pup protection and mother-pup interactions crucial for pup threat learning.

KEYWORDS:

freezing; learning; maternal behavior; neuroscience; rat; social interactions

PMID:
28606306
PMCID:
PMC5469614
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.24080
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd Icon for PubMed Central Icon for NYU School of Medicine
Loading ...
Support Center