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The central amygdala controls learning in the lateral amygdala

By Kai Yu, Sandra Ahrens, Xian Zhang, Hillary Schiff, Charu Ramakrishnan, Lief Fenno, Karl Deisseroth, Pengcheng Zhou, Liam Paninski, Bo Li

Posted 11 Apr 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/126649 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41593-017-0009-9)

Both the lateral and the central nuclei of the amygdala are required for adaptive behavioral responses to environmental cues predicting threats. While experience-driven synaptic plasticity in the lateral amygdala is thought to underlie the formation of association between a sensory stimulus and an ensuing threat, how the central amygdala participates in such learning process remains unclear. Here we show that a specific class of central amygdala neurons, the protein kinase C-δ-expressing neurons, is essential for the synaptic plasticity underlying learning in the lateral amygdala, as it is required for lateral amygdala neurons to respond to unconditioned stimulus, and furthermore carries information about the unconditioned stimulus to instruct learning. Our results uncover an amygdala functional organization that may play a key role in diverse learning processes.

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