Anthony Burgos-Robles, Eyal Y Kimchi, Ehsan M Izadmehr, Mary Jane Porzenheim, William A Ramos-Guasp, Edward H Nieh, Ada C Felix-Ortiz, Praneeth Namburi, Christopher A Leppla, Kara N Presbrey, Kavitha K Anandalingam, Pablo A Pagan-Rivera, Melodi Anahtar, Anna Beyeler & Kay M Tye
Nature Neuroscience 20, 824–835 (2017)
Orchestrating appropriate behavioral responses in the face of competing signals that predict either rewards or threats in the environment is crucial for survival. The basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) and prelimbic (PL) medial prefrontal cortex have been implicated in reward-seeking and fear-related responses, but how information flows between these reciprocally connected structures to coordinate behavior is unknown. We recorded neuronal activity from the BLA and PL while rats performed a task wherein competing shock- and sucrose-predictive cues were simultaneously presented. The correlated firing primarily displayed a BLAright arrowPL directionality during the shock-associated cue. Furthermore, BLA neurons optogenetically identified as projecting to PL more accurately predicted behavioral responses during competition than unidentified BLA neurons. Finally photostimulation of the BLAright arrowPL projection increased freezing, whereas both chemogenetic and optogenetic inhibition reduced freezing. Therefore, the BLAright arrowPL circuit is critical in governing the selection of behavioral responses in the face of competing signals.