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Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 26;9(1):1232. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03580-7.

Divergent midbrain circuits orchestrate escape and freezing responses to looming stimuli in mice.

Shang C1,2,3,4, Chen Z1,2, Liu A4,5, Li Y4, Zhang J1, Qu B1,2, Yan F1,2, Zhang Y3,4, Liu W3,4, Liu Z1, Guo X1, Li D4, Wang Y1, Cao P6,7.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100101, Beijing, China.
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100049, Beijing, China.
3
PTN Graduate Programs, School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, 100084, Beijing, China.
4
National Institute of Biological Sciences, 102206, Beijing, China.
5
Graduate School of Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, 100730, Beijing, China.
6
State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100101, Beijing, China. caopeng@nibs.ac.cn.
7
National Institute of Biological Sciences, 102206, Beijing, China. caopeng@nibs.ac.cn.

Abstract

Animals respond to environmental threats, e.g. looming visual stimuli, with innate defensive behaviors such as escape and freezing. The key neural circuits that participate in the generation of such dimorphic defensive behaviors remain unclear. Here we show that the dimorphic behavioral patterns triggered by looming visual stimuli are mediated by parvalbumin-positive (PV+) projection neurons in mouse superior colliculus (SC). Two distinct groups of SC PV+ neurons form divergent pathways to transmit threat-relevant visual signals to neurons in the parabigeminal nucleus (PBGN) and lateral posterior thalamic nucleus (LPTN). Activations of PV+ SC-PBGN and SC-LPTN pathways mimic the dimorphic defensive behaviors. The PBGN and LPTN neurons are co-activated by looming visual stimuli. Bilateral inactivation of either nucleus results in the defensive behavior dominated by the other nucleus. Together, these data suggest that the SC orchestrates dimorphic defensive behaviors through two separate tectofugal pathways that may have interactions.

PMID:
29581428
PMCID:
PMC5964329
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-018-03580-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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