Abstract

Behavioral flexibility and timely reactions to salient stimuli are essential for survival. The subcortical thalamic-basolateral amygdala (BLA) pathway serves as a shortcut for salient stimuli ensuring rapid processing. Here, we show that BLA neuronal and thalamic axonal activity mirror the defensive behavior evoked by an innate visual threat as well as an auditory learned threat. Importantly, perturbing this pathway compromises defensive responses to both forms of threats, in that animals fail to switch from exploratory to defensive behavior. Despite the shared pathway between the two forms of threat processing, we observed noticeable differences. Blocking beta-adrenergic receptors impair the defensive response to the innate but not the learned threats. This reduced defensive response, surprisingly, is reflected in the suppression of the activity exclusively in the BLA, as the thalamic input response remains intact. Our side-by-side examination highlights the similarities and differences between innate and learned threat-processing, thus providing new fundamental insights.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting file; source data for all the figures are deposited at Dyrad and available at https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.dbrv15f54The codes generated for this work are available on GitHub at https://github.com/NabaviLab-Git/Photometry-Signal-Analysis

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Valentina Khalil

    Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Aahrus, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Islam Faress

    Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Aahrus, Denmark
    For correspondence
    islam.faress@biomed.au.dk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Noëmie Mermet-Joret

    Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Aahrus, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Peter Kerwin

    The Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Aahrus, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8792-8626
  5. Keisuke Yonehara

    Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Sadegh Nabavi

    The Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Aahrus, Denmark
    For correspondence
    snabavi@dandrite.au.dk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3940-1210

Funding

Danish Council for Independent Research

  • Sadegh Nabavi

Novo Nordisk (NNF16OC0023368)

  • Sadegh Nabavi

AUFF NOVA

  • Sadegh Nabavi

Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience (19958)

  • Sadegh Nabavi

The Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF133)

  • Sadegh Nabavi

ERC starting grant (22736)

  • Sadegh Nabavi

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Mario A Penzo, National Institute of Mental Health, United States

Ethics

Animal experimentation: All the animal expermentations performed here were reviewed and approved by Danish Animal Experiment Inspectorate (permit number 2020-15-0201-00421)

Version history

  1. Received: December 8, 2022
  2. Preprint posted: January 13, 2023 (view preprint)
  3. Accepted: July 18, 2023
  4. Accepted Manuscript published: August 1, 2023 (version 1)
  5. Version of Record published: August 24, 2023 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2023, Khalil et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Valentina Khalil
  2. Islam Faress
  3. Noëmie Mermet-Joret
  4. Peter Kerwin
  5. Keisuke Yonehara
  6. Sadegh Nabavi
(2023)
Subcortico-amygdala pathway processes innate and learned threats
eLife 12:e85459.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.85459

Share this article

https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.85459

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