Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Dynamic coding of predatory information between the prelimbic cortex and lateral amygdala in foraging rats

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Science Advances  18 Apr 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 4, eaar7328
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar7328

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Abstract

Predation is considered a major selective pressure in the evolution of fear, but the neurophysiology of predator-induced fear is unknown. We simultaneously recorded lateral amygdala (LA) and prelimbic (PL) area neuronal activities as rats exited a safe nest to search for food in an open space before, during, and after encountering a “predator” robot programmed to surge from afar. Distinct populations of LA neurons transiently increased spiking as rats either advanced or fled the robot, whereas PL neurons showed longer-lasting spike trains that preceded and persisted beyond LA activity. Moreover, discrete LA-PL cell pairs displayed correlated firings only when the animals either approached or fled the robot. These results suggest a general fear function of the LA-PL circuit where the PL participates in the initial detection of potential threats, the LA signals the occurrence of real threats, and the dynamic LA-PL interaction optimizes defensive readiness for action.

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