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Controlling fear: function and plasticity of inhibitory circuits in the amygdala

English title Controlling fear: function and plasticity of inhibitory circuits in the amygdala
Applicant Lüthi Andreas
Number 117935
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research
Institution of higher education Institute Friedrich Miescher - FMI
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.10.2007 - 30.09.2010
Approved amount 539'000.00
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Keywords (6)

amygdala; fear conditioning; extinction; receptive fields; inhibition; synaptic plasticity

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Experience-dependent changes in behavior are mediated by long-term functional modifications in brain circuits. We are interested to understand the underlying mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and circuit level. As a model system we are using classical (Pavlovian) fear conditioning, a simple form of associative learning that depends on the amygdala, a brain area in the temporal lobe. While tremendous progress has been made in identifying the basic mechanisms underlying fear learning, much less is known about the mechanisms preventing inappropriate fear reactions and pathological anxiety. Recent evidence suggests that GABAergic inhibition mediated by local amygdala interneurons may play a key role in controlling amygdala plasticity and inhibition of inappropriate fear reactions.Using a multidisciplinary and integrated experimental approach in mice, we are combining in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological with genetic and behavioral techniques to address the functional properties of identified amygdala inhibitory circuits and their relevance to behavioral learning. The expected results will further our understanding of the cellular basis of learning processes in general. Moreover, elucidating the neural mechanisms constraining or inhibiting amygdala activity should also lead to novel therapeutic strategies for psychiatric disorders involving excessive fear responses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
131802 Encoding of Associative Fear Memory in Identified Neuronal Circuits of Auditory Cortex 01.12.2010 Ambizione
133137 Controlling fear: function and plasticity of inhibitory circuits in the amygdala 01.10.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)