MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joshua Kim, researcher
RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Biology and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: We previously identified to populations of neurons in a structure known as the basolateral amygdala, one that is capable of mediated fear-related behaviors and the other reward-related behaviors. Both of these basolateral amygdala populations send projections to a structure known as the central amygdala.
For this study, we wanted to examine the function of 7 different populations of central amygdala neurons in regard to fear-related and reward-related function and how each of these 7 populations are connected to the 2 basolateral amygdala populations.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that 5 different central amygdala populations mediate reward-related function while 1 mediates fear-related function.
All 5 central amygdala populations that mediate reward-related function receives connections from basolateral amygdala neurons that also mediate reward-related function.
The central amygdala population that mediates fear-related function receives connections from the basolateral amygdala neurons that mediate fear-related function.
We also found that the central amygdala population that mediate fear-related function inhibits central amygdala neurons that mediates reward function.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: The unexpected result from our study that is contrary to previous studies was that many of the neurons that we found to mediated reward-related function was previously thought to mediate fear-related function.
Our study suggest that fear function may not pass through the central amygdala, which is against the long held dogma in this field.
So for our future study we are looking to identify how fear-related basolateral amygdala neurons ultimately produce fear and are looking for potential alternative structures outside the central amygdala.
Joshua Kim et al. Basolateral to Central Amygdala Neural Circuits for Appetitive Behaviors. Neuron, March 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.02.034
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