Andreas Lüthi, PhD
Senior Group Leader
Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research
Hosted by: Andreas Burkhalter, PhD
This talk will be presented in-person and via Zoom.
Webinar link: https://bit.ly/DoNSeminarSeries
Classical fear conditioning is one of the most powerful models for studying the neuronal substrates of associative learning and for investigating how plasticity in defined neuronal circuits causes behavioral changes. In my talk, I will focus on the organization and function of the neuronal circuitry of fear and discuss how functionally, anatomically and genetically defined types of amygdala neurons contribute to the acquisition and expression of conditioned fear behavior. Moreover, I will present recent experiments longitudinally imaging neural calcium dynamics across different environments in freely moving mice engaged in exploratory or instrumental behaviors demonstrating that changes in the activity of major, non-overlapping populations of amygdala principal neurons predict switches between behavioral states. The amygdala broadcasts state information via several output pathways to larger brain networks, and sensory responses in BA occur independently of behavioral state encoding. Thus, the brain processes external stimuli and internal states orthogonally, which may facilitate rapid and flexible selection of appropriate, state-dependent behavioral responses.