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Postnatal development of the amygdala: a stereological study in rats.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2012
Author Chareyron Loïc J, Lavenex Pamela Banta, Lavenex Pierre,
Project The development of spatial relational memory in children.
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal The Journal of comparative neurology
Volume (Issue) 520(16)
Page(s) 3745 - 63
Title of proceedings The Journal of comparative neurology
DOI 10.1002/cne.23132


The amygdala is the central component of a functional brain system regulating fear and emotional behaviors. Studies of the ontogeny of fear behaviors reveal the emergence of distinct fear responses at different postnatal ages. Here, we performed a stereological analysis of the rat amygdala to characterize the cellular changes underlying its normal structural development. Distinct amygdala nuclei exhibited different patterns of postnatal development, which were largely similar to those we have previously shown in monkeys. The combined volume of the lateral, basal, and accessory basal nuclei increased by 113% from 1 to 3 weeks of age and by an additional 33% by 7 months of age. The volume of the central nucleus increased only 37% from 1 to 2 weeks of age and 38% from 2 weeks to 7 months. At 1 week of age, the medial nucleus was 77% of the 7-month-old's volume and exhibited a constant, marginal increase until 7 months. Neuron number did not differ in the amygdala from 1 week to 7 months of age. In contrast, astrocyte number decreased from 3 weeks to 2 months of age in the whole amygdala. Oligodendrocyte number increased in all amygdala nuclei from 3 weeks to 7 months of age. Our findings revealed that distinct amygdala nuclei exhibit different developmental profiles and that the rat amygdala is not fully mature for an extended period postnatally. We identified different periods of postnatal development of distinct amygdala nuclei and cellular components, which are concomitant with the ontogeny of different fear and emotional behaviors.