Published on February 12, 2014 at 1:24 PM
Li and his colleagues explored how these long-range neurons participate in fear conditioning. They trained animals to associate a particular sound with a shock, conditioning the animals to fear the sound. In these animals, the activity of the long-range projection neurons in the central amygdala became enhanced.
"This study not only establishes a novel pathway for fear learning, but also identifies neurons that actively participate in fear conditioning," says Li. "This new pathway can mediate the effect of the central amygdala directly, rather than signaling through other neurons, as traditionally thought."
The next step for these researchers is to apply this knowledge to models of PTSD. "We are working to find out how these circuits behave in anxiety disorders, so that we can hopefully learn to control fear in diseases such as PTSD," says Li.
Source: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory