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D10: The neuronal circuitry of fear conditioning: Computing at the interface between cortex and striatum

D10: The neuronal circuitry of fear conditioning: Computing at the interface between cortex and striatum

 

logo_neurex.jpgAndreas Lüthij, Ad AertsenA


j = Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel
A = Neurobiology and Biophysics

About the project

Classical fear conditioning is one of the most powerful models to study the neuronal substrates of associative learning in the mammalian brain. A large number of studies have consistently supported the notion that the amygdala is the key structure in the neural system involved in learning about stimuli that signal threat in animals.

The amygdaloid complex consists of several anatomically and functionally distinct nuclei, located in the medial temporal lobe at the interface between cortex and striatum. The basolateral complex (BLA), containing the lateral (LA), and basal (BA) nuclei is a cortical-like structure comprised of glutamatergic projection neurons (pyramidal cells) and distinct types of GABAergic interneurons organized in a feedforward and recurrent excitatory and inhibitory network. In contrast, the central amygdaloid complex (CeA), containing the lateral (CeL), and medial (CeM) subdivisions, is a striatal structure containing almost exclusively GABAergic neurons giving rise to a dis-inhibitory circuit organization.

Given the fundamentally distinct organization of the neuronal circuitry of the BLA and the CeA, this raises a number of intriguing questions: Which aspects of fear conditioning are processed in these two serially linked circuits? Does the serial combination of a cortical-like and a striatal-like circuit confer specific computational properties that are advantageous to the acquisition or expression of conditioned fear responses? We plan to address these questions using a combination of physiological, behavioral and modeling approaches.
 

Funded by NEUREX

 

Project closed

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