Prof. Schneggenburger's Lab: Shriya Palchaudhuri - An insular cortex - lateral amygdala network in fear learning
Online by invitation only
Fear learning is a behavioral paradigm which might allow to relate plasticity at specific synapses and - circuits, to a learned behavioural response. The lateral amygdala (LA) has long been known to receive thalamic- and auditory cortex inputs, which undergo long-term plasticity during fear learning. Interestingly, anatomical studies show that the posterior insular cortex (pInsCx) is also upstream to the LA; furthermore, the pInsCx has been shown to process auditory, somatosensory - nociceptive, and interoceptive information. Here, using in-vivo recordings, in-vivo optogenetic techniques, and ex-vivo optogenetically -assisted circuit mapping, we find that the pInsCx plays a role in associative plasticity upstream of the LA. Furthermore, the pInsCx to LA excitatory synapse transmits part of the footshock information to the LA, and undergoes an increase in AMPA/NMDA ratio after fear learning. Our study suggests that aversively-motived associative plasticity can take place upstream of the amygdala, a finding that parallels recent studies in thalamic areas.