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      Switching on and off fear by distinct neuronal circuits.

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          Abstract

          Switching between exploratory and defensive behaviour is fundamental to survival of many animals, but how this transition is achieved by specific neuronal circuits is not known. Here, using the converse behavioural states of fear extinction and its context-dependent renewal as a model in mice, we show that bi-directional transitions between states of high and low fear are triggered by a rapid switch in the balance of activity between two distinct populations of basal amygdala neurons. These two populations are integrated into discrete neuronal circuits differentially connected with the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex. Targeted and reversible neuronal inactivation of the basal amygdala prevents behavioural changes without affecting memory or expression of behaviour. Our findings indicate that switching between distinct behavioural states can be triggered by selective activation of specific neuronal circuits integrating sensory and contextual information. These observations provide a new framework for understanding context-dependent changes of fear behaviour.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Nature
          Nature
          Springer Science and Business Media LLC
          1476-4687
          0028-0836
          Jul 31 2008
          : 454
          : 7204
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Maulbeerstrasse 66, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland. cyril.herry@fmi.ch
          Article
          nature07166
          10.1038/nature07166
          18615015
          35c7bff8-47d3-4fb8-9550-5bfc4a4f4be5
          History

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