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A central amygdala-globus pallidus circuit conveys unconditioned stimulus information and controls fear learning

By Jacqueline R Giovanniello, Kai Yu, Alessandro Furlan, Gregory Thomas Nachtrab, Radhashree Sharma, Xiaoke Chen, Bo Li

Posted 30 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.28.066753

The central amygdala (CeA) is critically involved in a range of adaptive behaviors. In particular, the somatostatin-expressing (Sst+) neurons in the CeA are essential for classic fear conditioning. These neurons send long-range projections to several extra-amygdala targets, but the functions of these projections remain elusive. Here, we found in mice that a subset of Sst+ CeA neurons send projections to the globus pallidus external segment (GPe), and constitute essentially the entire GPe-projecting CeA population. Notably, chronic inhibition of GPe-projecting CeA neurons completely blocks auditory fear conditioning. These neurons are selectively excited by the unconditioned stimulus (US) during fear conditioning, and transient inactivation or activation of these neurons during US presentation impairs or promotes, respectively, fear learning. Our results suggest that a major function of Sst+ CeA neurons is to represent and convey US information through the CeA-GPe circuit, thereby instructing learning in fear conditioning. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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