IF du Neurocentre

48 publications

* equal contribution
Les IF indiqués ont été collectés par le Web of Sciences en Juin 2021

14/07/2021 | Nature   IF 50
Dynamical prefrontal population coding during defensive behaviours.
Jercog D, Winke N, Sung K, Fernandez MM, Francioni C, Rajot D, Courtin J, Chaudun F, Jercog PE, Valerio S, Herry C

Coping with threatening situations requires both identifying stimuli that predict danger and selecting adaptive behavioural responses to survive(1). The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) is a critical structure that is involved in the regulation of threat-related behaviour(2-4). However, it is unclear how threat-predicting stimuli and defensive behaviours are associated within prefrontal networks to successfully drive adaptive responses. Here we used a combination of extracellular recordings, neuronal decoding approaches, pharmacological and optogenetic manipulations to show that, in mice, threat representations and the initiation of avoidance behaviour are dynamically encoded in the overall population activity of dmPFC neurons. Our data indicate that although dmPFC population activity at stimulus onset encodes sustained threat representations driven by the amygdala, it does not predict action outcome. By contrast, transient dmPFC population activity before the initiation of action reliably predicts avoided from non-avoided trials. Accordingly, optogenetic inhibition of prefrontal activity constrained the selection of adaptive defensive responses in a time-dependent manner. These results reveal that the adaptive selection of defensive responses relies on a dynamic process of information linking threats with defensive actions, unfolding within prefrontal networks.

06/07/2021 | Nat Commun   IF 14.9
Central amygdala micro-circuits mediate fear extinction.
Whittle N, Fadok J, MacPherson KP, Nguyen R, Botta P, Wolff SBE, Müller C, Herry C, Tovote P, Holmes A, Singewald N, Lüthi A, Ciocchi S

Fear extinction is an adaptive process whereby defensive responses are attenuated following repeated experience of prior fear-related stimuli without harm. The formation of extinction memories involves interactions between various corticolimbic structures, resulting in reduced central amygdala (CEA) output. Recent studies show, however, the CEA is not merely an output relay of fear responses but contains multiple neuronal subpopulations that interact to calibrate levels of fear responding. Here, by integrating behavioural, in vivo electrophysiological, anatomical and optogenetic approaches in mice we demonstrate that fear extinction produces reversible, stimulus- and context-specific changes in neuronal responses to conditioned stimuli in functionally and genetically defined cell types in the lateral (CEl) and medial (CEm) CEA. Moreover, we show these alterations are absent when extinction is deficient and that selective silencing of protein kinase C delta-expressing (PKCδ) CEl neurons impairs fear extinction. Our findings identify CEA inhibitory microcircuits that act as critical elements within the brain networks mediating fear extinction.

Translational research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has produced limited improvements in clinical practice. Fear conditioning (FC) is one of the dominant animal models of PTSD. In fact, FC is used in many different ways to model PTSD. The variety of FC-based models is ill defined, creating confusion and conceptual vagueness, which in turn impedes translation into the clinic. This article takes a historical and conceptual approach to provide a comprehensive picture of current research and help reorient the research focus. This work historically reviews the variety of models that have emerged from the initial association of PTSD with FC, highlighting conceptual pitfalls that have limited the translation of animal research into clinical advances. We then provide some guidance on how future translational research could benefit from conceptual and technological improvements to translate basic findings in patients. This objective will require transdisciplinary approaches and should involve physicians, engineers, philosophers, and neuroscientists.

10/05/2021 | Nat Commun   IF 14.9
Breathing-driven prefrontal oscillations regulate maintenance of conditioned-fear evoked freezing independently of initiation.
Bagur S, Lefort JM, Lacroix MM, de Lavilléon G, Herry C, Chouvaeff M, Billand C, Geoffroy H, Benchenane K

Brain-body interactions are thought to be essential in emotions but their physiological basis remains poorly understood. In mice, regular 4 Hz breathing appears during freezing after cue-fear conditioning. Here we show that the olfactory bulb (OB) transmits this rhythm to the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) where it organizes neural activity. Reduction of the respiratory-related 4 Hz oscillation, via bulbectomy or optogenetic perturbation of the OB, reduces freezing. Behavioural modelling shows that this is due to a specific reduction in freezing maintenance without impacting its initiation, thus dissociating these two phenomena. dmPFC LFP and firing patterns support the region's specific function in freezing maintenance. In particular, population analysis reveals that network activity tracks 4 Hz power dynamics during freezing and reaches a stable state at 4 Hz peak that lasts until freezing termination. These results provide a potential mechanism and a functional role for bodily feedback in emotions and therefore shed light on the historical James-Cannon debate.

10/2018 | Curr Opin Neurobiol   IF 6.5
Neuronal coding mechanisms mediating fear behavior.
Rozeske RR, Herry C

The behavioral repertoire of an organism can be highly diverse, spanning from social to defensive. How an animal efficiently switches between distinct behaviors is a fundamental question whose inquiry will provide insights into the mechanisms that are necessary for an organism's survival. Previous work aimed at identifying the neural systems responsible for defensive behaviors, such as freezing, has demonstrated critical interactions between the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Indeed, this foundational research has provided an indispensable anatomical framework that investigators are now using to understand the physiological mechanisms of defined neural circuits within the prefrontal cortex that code for the rapid and flexible expression of defensive behaviors. Here we review recent findings demonstrating temporal and rate coding mechanisms of freezing behavior in the prefrontal cortex. We hypothesize that anatomical features, such as target structure and cortical layer, as well as the nature of the information to be coded, may be critical factors determining the coding scheme. Furthermore, detailed behavioral analyses may reveal subtypes of defensive behaviors that represent the principle factor governing coding selection.

20/06/2018 | bio protoc
Protocols to Study Declarative Memory Formation in Mice and Humans: Optogenetics and Translational Behavioral Approaches
Sellami A, Al abed S, Brayda-Bruno L, Etchamendy N, Valerio S, Oule M, Pantaleon L, Lamothe V, Potier M, Bernard K, Jabourian M, Herry C, Mons N, Marighetto A

24/01/2018 | Neuron   IF 14.3
Prefrontal-Periaqueductal Gray-Projecting Neurons Mediate Context Fear Discrimination.
Rozeske RR, Jercog D, Karalis N, Chaudun F, Khoder S, Girard D, Winke N, Herry C

Survival critically depends on selecting appropriate defensive or exploratory behaviors and is strongly influenced by the surrounding environment. Contextual discrimination is a fundamental process that is thought to depend on the prefrontal cortex to integrate sensory information from the environment and regulate adaptive responses to threat during uncertainty. However, the precise prefrontal circuits necessary for discriminating a previously threatening context from a neutral context remain unknown. Using a combination of single-unit recordings and optogenetic manipulations, we identified a neuronal subpopulation in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) that projects to the lateral and ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (l/vlPAG) and is selectively activated during contextual fear discrimination. Moreover, optogenetic activation and inhibition of this neuronal population promoted contextual fear discrimination and generalization, respectively. Our results identify a subpopulation of dmPFC-l/vlPAG-projecting neurons that control switching between different emotional states during contextual discrimination.

19/09/2017 | Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A   IF 9.7
Temporal binding function of dorsal CA1 is critical for declarative memory formation.
Sellami A, Al Abed AS, Brayda-Bruno L, Etchamendy N, Valerio S, Oule M, Pantaleon L, Lamothe V, Potier M, Bernard K, Jabourian M, Herry C, Mons N, Piazza PV, Eichenbaum H, Marighetto A

Temporal binding, the process that enables association between discontiguous stimuli in memory, and relational organization, a process that enables the flexibility of declarative memories, are both hippocampus-dependent and decline in aging. However, how these two processes are related in supporting declarative memory formation and how they are compromised in age-related memory loss remain hypothetical. We here identify a causal link between these two features of declarative memory: Temporal binding is a necessary condition for the relational organization of discontiguous events. We demonstrate that the formation of a relational memory is limited by the capability of temporal binding, which depends on dorsal (d)CA1 activity over time intervals and diminishes in aging. Conversely, relational representation is successful even in aged individuals when the demand on temporal binding is minimized, showing that relational/declarative memory per se is not impaired in aging. Thus, bridging temporal intervals by dCA1 activity is a critical foundation of relational representation, and a deterioration of this mechanism is responsible for the age-associated memory impairment.

Background: Orexins are hypothalamic neuropeptides recently involved in the regulation of emotional memory. The basolateral amygdala, an area orchestrating fear memory processes, appears to be modulated by orexin transmission during fear extinction. However, the neuronal types within the basolateral amygdala involved in this modulation remain to be elucidated. Methods: We used retrograde tracing combined with immunofluorescence techniques in mice to identify basolateral amygdala projection neurons and cell subpopulations in this brain region influenced by orexin transmission during contextual fear extinction consolidation. Results: Treatment with the orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB334867 increased the activity of basolateral amygdala neurons projecting to infralimbic medial prefrontal cortex during fear extinction. GABAergic interneurons expressing calbindin, but not parvalbumin, were also activated by orexin-1 receptor antagonism in the basolateral amygdala. Conclusions: These data identify neuronal circuits and cell populations of the amygdala associated with the facilitation of fear extinction consolidation induced by the orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB334867.

12/01/2017 | Cell   IF 30.4
Blood on the Tracks: Two Pathways for Predation.
Rozeske RR, Herry C

Accurate predatory behavior requires coordination between pursuit activity and prey consumption, yet the underlying neuronal circuits are unknown. A novel study published in this issue of Cell identifies two coordinated circuits emanating from the central amygdala that control the efficiency of prey capture and the ability to deliver fatal bites to prey.

21/07/2016 | Nature   IF 38.1
Prefrontal neuronal assemblies temporally control fear behaviour.
Dejean C, Courtin J, Karalis N, Chaudun F, Wurtz H, Bienvenu TC, Herry C

Precise spike timing through the coordination and synchronization of neuronal assemblies is an efficient and flexible coding mechanism for sensory and cognitive processing. In cortical and subcortical areas, the formation of cell assemblies critically depends on neuronal oscillations, which can precisely control the timing of spiking activity. Whereas this form of coding has been described for sensory processing and spatial learning, its role in encoding emotional behaviour remains unknown. Fear behaviour relies on the activation of distributed structures, among which the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) is known to be critical for fear memory expression. In the dmPFC, the phasic activation of neurons to threat-predicting cues, a spike-rate coding mechanism, correlates with conditioned fear responses and supports the discrimination between aversive and neutral stimuli. However, this mechanism does not account for freezing observed outside stimuli presentations, and the contribution of a general spike-time coding mechanism for freezing in the dmPFC remains to be established. Here we use a combination of single-unit and local field potential recordings along with optogenetic manipulations to show that, in the dmPFC, expression of conditioned fear is causally related to the organization of neurons into functional assemblies. During fear behaviour, the development of 4 Hz oscillations coincides with the activation of assemblies nested in the ascending phase of the oscillation. The selective optogenetic inhibition of dmPFC neurons during the ascending or descending phases of this oscillation blocks and promotes conditioned fear responses, respectively. These results identify a novel phase-specific coding mechanism, which dynamically regulates the development of dmPFC assemblies to control the precise timing of fear responses.

09/06/2016 | Nature   IF 38.1
Midbrain circuits for defensive behaviour.
Tovote P, Esposito MS, Botta P, Chaudun F, Fadok JP, Markovic M, Wolff SB, Ramakrishnan C, Fenno L, Deisseroth K, Herry C, Arber S, Luthi A

Survival in threatening situations depends on the selection and rapid execution of an appropriate active or passive defensive response, yet the underlying brain circuitry is not understood. Here we use circuit-based optogenetic, in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological, and neuroanatomical tracing methods to define midbrain periaqueductal grey circuits for specific defensive behaviours. We identify an inhibitory pathway from the central nucleus of the amygdala to the ventrolateral periaqueductal grey that produces freezing by disinhibition of ventrolateral periaqueductal grey excitatory outputs to pre-motor targets in the magnocellular nucleus of the medulla. In addition, we provide evidence for anatomical and functional interaction of this freezing pathway with long-range and local circuits mediating flight. Our data define the neuronal circuitry underlying the execution of freezing, an evolutionarily conserved defensive behaviour, which is expressed by many species including fish, rodents and primates. In humans, dysregulation of this 'survival circuit' has been implicated in anxiety-related disorders.

15/02/2016 | Nat Neurosci   IF 16.7
4-Hz oscillations synchronize prefrontal-amygdala circuits during fear behavior.
Karalis N, Dejean C, Chaudun F, Khoder S, Rozeske RR, Wurtz H, Bagur S, Benchenane K, Sirota A, Courtin J, Herry C

Fear expression relies on the coordinated activity of prefrontal and amygdala circuits, yet the mechanisms allowing long-range network synchronization during fear remain unknown. Using a combination of extracellular recordings, pharmacological and optogenetic manipulations, we found that freezing, a behavioral expression of fear, temporally coincided with the development of sustained, internally generated 4-Hz oscillations in prefrontal-amygdala circuits. 4-Hz oscillations predict freezing onset and offset and synchronize prefrontal-amygdala circuits. Optogenetic induction of prefrontal 4-Hz oscillations coordinates prefrontal-amygdala activity and elicits fear behavior. These results unravel a sustained oscillatory mechanism mediating prefrontal-amygdala coupling during fear behavior.

01/09/2015 | Biol Psychiatry   IF 10.3
Neuronal Circuits for Fear Expression and Recovery: Recent Advances and Potential Therapeutic Strategies.
Dejean C, Courtin J, Rozeske RR, Bonnet MC, Dousset V, Michelet T, Herry C

Recent technological developments, such as single unit recordings coupled to optogenetic approaches, have provided unprecedented knowledge about the precise neuronal circuits contributing to the expression and recovery of conditioned fear behavior. These data have provided an understanding of the contributions of distinct brain regions such as the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and periaqueductal gray matter to the control of conditioned fear behavior. Notably, the precise manipulation and identification of specific cell types by optogenetic techniques have provided novel avenues to establish causal links between changes in neuronal activity that develop in dedicated neuronal structures and the short and long-lasting expression of conditioned fear memories. In this review, we provide an update on the key neuronal circuits and cell types mediating conditioned fear expression and recovery and how these new discoveries might refine therapeutic approaches for psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder.

16/06/2015 | Neuroscience   IF 3.4
Preventing long-lasting fear recovery using bilateral alternating sensory stimulation: A translational study.
Wurtz H, El-Khoury-Malhame M, Wilhelm FH, Michael T, Beetz EM, Roques J, Reynaud E, Courtin J, Khalfa S, Herry C

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a highly debilitating and prevalent psychological disorder. It is characterized by highly distressing intrusive trauma memories that are partly explained by fear conditioning. Despite efficient therapeutic approaches, a subset of PTSD patients displays spontaneous recurrence of traumatic memories after successful treatment. The development of animal behavioral models mimicking the individual variability in treatment outcome for PTSD patients represent therefore an important challenge as it allows for the identification of predicting factors of resilience or susceptibility to relapse. However, to date, only few animal behavioral models of long-lasting fear recovery have been developed and their predictive validity has not been tested directly. The objectives of this study were twofold. First we aimed to develop a simple animal behavioral model of long-lasting fear recovery based on auditory cued fear conditioning and extinction learning, which recapitulates the heterogeneity of fear responses observed in PTSD patients after successful treatment. Second we aimed at testing the predictive validity of our behavioral model and used to this purpose a translational approach based (i) on the demonstration of the efficiency of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to reduce conditioned fear responses in PTSD patients and (ii) on the implementation in our behavioral model of an electrical bilateral alternating stimulation of the eyelid which mimics the core feature of EMDR. Our data indicate that electrical bilateral alternating stimulation of the eyelid during extinction learning alleviates long-lasting fear recovery of conditioned fear responses and dramatically reduces inter-individual variability. These results demonstrate the face and predictive validity of our animal behavioral model and provide an interesting tool to understand the neurobiological underpinnings of long-lasting fear recovery.

12/2014 | Nat Neurosci   IF 15
Encoding of fear learning and memory in distributed neuronal circuits.
Herry C, Johansen JP

How sensory information is transformed by learning into adaptive behaviors is a fundamental question in neuroscience. Studies of auditory fear conditioning have revealed much about the formation and expression of emotional memories and have provided important insights into this question. Classical work focused on the amygdala as a central structure for fear conditioning. Recent advances, however, have identified new circuits and neural coding strategies mediating fear learning and the expression of fear behaviors. One area of research has identified key brain regions and neuronal coding mechanisms that regulate the formation, specificity and strength of fear memories. Other work has discovered critical circuits and neuronal dynamics by which fear memories are expressed through a medial prefrontal cortex pathway and coordinated activity across interconnected brain regions. Here we review these recent advances alongside prior work to provide a working model of the extended circuits and neuronal coding mechanisms mediating fear learning and memory.

11/2014 | Med Sci (Paris)
[Prefrontal parvalbumin-expressing interneurons control fear behavior].
Courtin J, Dejean C, Herry C

07/10/2014 | Genes Brain Behav   IF 3.5
Prefrontal neuronal circuits of contextual fear conditioning.
Rozeske RR, Valerio S, Chaudun F, Herry C

Over the past years, numerous studies have provided a clear understanding of the neuronal circuits and mechanisms involved in the formation, expression and extinction phases of conditioned cued fear memories. Yet, despite a strong clinical interest, a detailed understanding of these memory phases for contextual fear memories is still missing. Besides the well-known role of the hippocampus in encoding contextual fear behavior, growing evidence indicates that specific regions of the medial prefrontal cortex differentially regulate contextual fear acquisition and storage in both animals and humans that ultimately leads to expression of contextual fear memories. In this review, we provide a detailed description of the recent literature on the role of distinct prefrontal subregions in contextual fear behavior and provide a working model of the neuronal circuits involved in the acquisition, expression and generalization of contextual fear memories.

22/05/2014 | Nature   IF 42.4
Amygdala interneuron subtypes control fear learning through disinhibition.
Wolff SB, Grundemann J, Tovote P, Krabbe S, Jacobson GA, Muller C, Herry C, Ehrlich I, Friedrich RW, Letzkus JJ, Luthi A

Learning is mediated by experience-dependent plasticity in neuronal circuits. Activity in neuronal circuits is tightly regulated by different subtypes of inhibitory interneurons, yet their role in learning is poorly understood. Using a combination of in vivo single-unit recordings and optogenetic manipulations, we show that in the mouse basolateral amygdala, interneurons expressing parvalbumin (PV) and somatostatin (SOM) bidirectionally control the acquisition of fear conditioning--a simple form of associative learning--through two distinct disinhibitory mechanisms. During an auditory cue, PV(+) interneurons are excited and indirectly disinhibit the dendrites of basolateral amygdala principal neurons via SOM(+) interneurons, thereby enhancing auditory responses and promoting cue-shock associations. During an aversive footshock, however, both PV(+) and SOM(+) interneurons are inhibited, which boosts postsynaptic footshock responses and gates learning. These results demonstrate that associative learning is dynamically regulated by the stimulus-specific activation of distinct disinhibitory microcircuits through precise interactions between different subtypes of local interneurons.

17/03/2014 | Neuropsychopharmacology   IF 7.8
Frequency of Cocaine Self-Administration Influences Drug Seeking in the Rat: Optogenetic Evidence for a Role of the Prelimbic Cortex.
Martin-Garcia E, Courtin J, Renault P, Fiancette JF, Wurtz H, Simonnet A, Levet F, Herry C, Deroche-Gamonet V

High-frequency intake and high drug-induced seeking are associated with cocaine addiction in both human and animals. However, their relationships and neurobiological underpinnings remain hypothetical. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), basolateral amygdala (BLA), and nucleus accumbens (NAc) have been shown to have a role in cocaine seeking. However, their involvement in regulating high-frequency intake and high cocaine-induced seeking is unclear. We manipulated frequency of cocaine self-administration and investigated whether it influenced cocaine seeking. The contribution of the aforementioned structures was evaluated using changes in expression of the immediate early gene c-Fos and targeted optogenetic manipulations. Rats that self-administered at High frequency (short inter-infusion intervals allowed by short time-out) showed higher cocaine-induced seeking than low frequency rats (long inter-infusions intervals imposed by long time-out), as measured with cocaine-induced reinstatement. c-Fos was enhanced in High frequency rats in the prelimbic (PL) and infralimbic (IL) areas of the mPFC, the BLA, and the NAc core and shell. Correlational analysis of c-Fos revealed that the PL was a critical node strongly correlated with both the IL and NAc core in High frequency rats. Targeted optogenetic inactivation of the PL decreased cocaine-induced reinstatement, but increased cocaine self-administration, in High frequency rats. In contrast, optogenetic activation of the PL had no effect on Low frequency rats. Thus, high-frequency intake promotes a PL-dependent control of cocaine seeking, with the PL exerting a facilitatory or inhibitory effect, depending on operant contingencies. Individual differences in cocaine-induced PL activation might be a source of vulnerability for poorly controlled cocaine-induced seeking and/or cocaine intake.Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication, 16 April 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.66.

22/01/2014 | Neuron   IF 16
Long-range connectivity defines behavioral specificity of amygdala neurons.
Senn V, Wolff SB, Herry C, Grenier F, Ehrlich I, Grundemann J, Fadok JP, Muller C, Letzkus JJ, Luthi A

Memories are acquired and encoded within large-scale neuronal networks spanning different brain areas. The anatomical and functional specificity of such long-range interactions and their role in learning is poorly understood. The amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are interconnected brain structures involved in the extinction of conditioned fear. Here, we show that a defined subpopulation of basal amygdala (BA) projection neurons targeting the prelimbic (PL) subdivision of mPFC is active during states of high fear, whereas BA neurons targeting the infralimbic (IL) subdivision are recruited, and exhibit cell-type-specific plasticity, during fear extinction. Pathway-specific optogenetic manipulations demonstrate that the activity balance between pathways is causally involved in fear extinction. Together, our findings demonstrate that, although intermingled locally, long-range connectivity defines distinct subpopulations of amygdala projection neurons and indicate that the formation of long-term extinction memories depends on the balance of activity between two defined amygdala-prefrontal pathways.

02/01/2014 | Nature   IF 42.4
Prefrontal parvalbumin interneurons shape neuronal activity to drive fear expression.
Courtin J, Chaudun F, Rozeske RR, Karalis N, Gonzalez-Campo C, Wurtz H, Abdi A, Baufreton J, Bienvenu TC, Herry C

Synchronization of spiking activity in neuronal networks is a fundamental process that enables the precise transmission of information to drive behavioural responses. In cortical areas, synchronization of principal-neuron spiking activity is an effective mechanism for information coding that is regulated by GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)-ergic interneurons through the generation of neuronal oscillations. Although neuronal synchrony has been demonstrated to be crucial for sensory, motor and cognitive processing, it has not been investigated at the level of defined circuits involved in the control of emotional behaviour. Converging evidence indicates that fear behaviour is regulated by the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). This control over fear behaviour relies on the activation of specific prefrontal projections to the basolateral complex of the amygdala (BLA), a structure that encodes associative fear memories. However, it remains to be established how the precise temporal control of fear behaviour is achieved at the level of prefrontal circuits. Here we use single-unit recordings and optogenetic manipulations in behaving mice to show that fear expression is causally related to the phasic inhibition of prefrontal parvalbumin interneurons (PVINs). Inhibition of PVIN activity disinhibits prefrontal projection neurons and synchronizes their firing by resetting local theta oscillations, leading to fear expression. Our results identify two complementary neuronal mechanisms mediated by PVINs that precisely coordinate and enhance the neuronal activity of prefrontal projection neurons to drive fear expression.

30/09/2013 | Neurobiol Learn Mem   IF 3.3
Persistence of amygdala gamma oscillations during extinction learning predicts spontaneous fear recovery.
Courtin J, Karalis N, Gonzalez-Campo C, Wurtz H, Herry C

Extinction of auditory fear conditioning induces a temporary inhibition of conditioned fear responses that can spontaneously reappear with the passage of time. Several lines of evidence indicate that extinction learning relies on the recruitment of specific neuronal populations within the basolateral amygdala. In contrast, post-extinction spontaneous fear recovery is thought to result from deficits in the consolidation of extinction memory within prefrontal neuronal circuits. Interestingly, recent data indicates that the strength of gamma oscillations in the basolateral amygdala during auditory fear conditioning correlates with retrieval of conditioned fear responses. In the present manuscript we evaluated the hypothesis that post-extinction spontaneous fear recovery might depend on the maintenance of gamma oscillations within the basolateral amygdala by using single unit and local field potential recordings in behaving mice. Our results indicate that gamma oscillations in the basolateral amygdala were enhanced following fear conditioning, whereas during extinction learning gamma profiles were more heterogeneous despite similar extinction learning rates. Remarkably, variations in the strength of gamma power within the basolateral amygdala between early and late stages of extinction linearly predicted the level of post-extinction spontaneous fear recovery. These data suggest that maintenance of gamma oscillations in the basolateral amygdala during extinction learning is a strong predictive factor of long term spontaneous fear recovery.

14/06/2013 | Neuroscience   IF 3.1
Medial prefrontal cortex neuronal circuits in fear behavior
Courtin J, Bienvenu T, Einarsson EO, Herry C

he medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has emerged as a key structure involved in the modulation of fear behavior over the past few decades. Anatomical, functional and electrophysiological studies have begun to shed light on the precise mechanisms by which different prefrontal regions regulate the expression and inhibition of fear behavior. These studies have established a canonical view of mPFC functions during fear behavior with dorsal regions selectively involved in the expression of fear behavior and ventral regions linked to the inhibition of fear behavior. Although numerous reports support this view, recent data have refined this model and suggested that dorsal prefrontal regions might also play an important role in the encoding of fear behavior itself. The recent development of sophisticated approaches such as large scale neuronal recordings, simultaneous multisite recordings of spiking activity and local field potentials (LFPs) along with optogenetic approaches will facilitate the testing of these new hypotheses in the near future. Here we provide an extensive review of the literature on the role of mPFC in fear behavior and propose further directions to dissect the contribution of specific prefrontal neuronal elements and circuits in the regulation of fear behavior.

15/12/2011 | Nature   IF 36.3
A disinhibitory microcircuit for associative fear learning in the auditory cortex.
Letzkus JJ, Wolff SB, Meyer EM, Tovote P, Courtin J, Herry C, Luthi A

Learning causes a change in how information is processed by neuronal circuits. Whereas synaptic plasticity, an important cellular mechanism, has been studied in great detail, we know much less about how learning is implemented at the level of neuronal circuits and, in particular, how interactions between distinct types of neurons within local networks contribute to the process of learning. Here we show that acquisition of associative fear memories depends on the recruitment of a disinhibitory microcircuit in the mouse auditory cortex. Fear-conditioning-associated disinhibition in auditory cortex is driven by foot-shock-mediated cholinergic activation of layer 1 interneurons, in turn generating inhibition of layer 2/3 parvalbumin-positive interneurons. Importantly, pharmacological or optogenetic block of pyramidal neuron disinhibition abolishes fear learning. Together, these data demonstrate that stimulus convergence in the auditory cortex is necessary for associative fear learning to complex tones, define the circuit elements mediating this convergence and suggest that layer-1-mediated disinhibition is an important mechanism underlying learning and information processing in neocortical circuits.

05/2011 | Med Sci (Paris)
[Novel amygdala neuronal circuits controlling fear behavior].
Ciocchi S, Luthi A, Herry C

03/2011 | Plos Comput Biol   IF 5.2
Context-dependent encoding of fear and extinction memories in a large-scale network model of the basal amygdala.
Vlachos I, Herry C, Luthi A, Aertsen A, Kumar A

The basal nucleus of the amygdala (BA) is involved in the formation of context-dependent conditioned fear and extinction memories. To understand the underlying neural mechanisms we developed a large-scale neuron network model of the BA, composed of excitatory and inhibitory leaky-integrate-and-fire neurons. Excitatory BA neurons received conditioned stimulus (CS)-related input from the adjacent lateral nucleus (LA) and contextual input from the hippocampus or medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). We implemented a plasticity mechanism according to which CS and contextual synapses were potentiated if CS and contextual inputs temporally coincided on the afferents of the excitatory neurons. Our simulations revealed a differential recruitment of two distinct subpopulations of BA neurons during conditioning and extinction, mimicking the activation of experimentally observed cell populations. We propose that these two subgroups encode contextual specificity of fear and extinction memories, respectively. Mutual competition between them, mediated by feedback inhibition and driven by contextual inputs, regulates the activity in the central amygdala (CEA) thereby controlling amygdala output and fear behavior. The model makes multiple testable predictions that may advance our understanding of fear and extinction memories.

10/11/2010 | J Neurosci   IF 7.5
Erasing fear memories with extinction training.
Quirk GJ, Pare D, Richardson R, Herry C, Monfils MH, Schiller D, Vicentic A

Decades of behavioral studies have confirmed that extinction does not erase classically conditioned fear memories. For this reason, research efforts have focused on the mechanisms underlying the development of extinction-induced inhibition within fear circuits. However, recent studies in rodents have uncovered mechanisms that stabilize and destabilize fear memories, opening the possibility that extinction might be used to erase fear memories. This symposium focuses on several of these new developments, which involve the timing of extinction training. Extinction-induced erasure of fear occurs in very young rats, but is lost with the development of perineuronal nets in the amygdala that render fear memories impervious to extinction. Moreover, extinction administered during the reconsolidation phase, when fear memory is destabilized, updates the fear association as safe, thereby preventing the return of fear, in both rats and humans. The use of modified extinction protocols to eliminate fear memories complements existing pharmacological strategies for strengthening extinction.

06/2010 | Eur J Neurosci   IF 3.7
Impaired fear extinction in mice lacking protease nexin-1.
Meins M, Herry C, Muller C, Ciocchi S, Moreno E, Luthi A, Monard D

The serine protease inhibitor protease-nexin-1 (PN-1) has been shown to modulate N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-mediated synaptic currents and NMDAR-dependent long-term potentiation of synaptic transmission. Here, we analysed the role of PN-1 in the acquisition and extinction of classical auditory fear conditioning, two distinct forms of learning that both depend on NMDAR activity in the amygdala. Immunostaining revealed that PN-1 is expressed throughout the amygdala, primarily in gamma-aminobutyric acid containing neurons of the central amygdala and intercalated cell masses (ITCs) and in glia. Fear extinction was severely impaired in mice lacking PN-1 (PN-1 KO). Consistent with a role for the basal nucleus of the amygdala in fear extinction, we found that, compared with wild-type (WT) littermate controls, PN-1 KO mice exhibited decreased numbers of Fos-positive neurons in the basal nucleus after extinction. Moreover, immunoblot analysis of laser-microdissected amygdala sub-nuclei revealed specific extinction-induced increases in the level of phosphorylated alpha-calcium/calmodulin protein kinase II in the medial ITCs and in the lateral subdivision of the central amygdala in WT mice. These responses were altered in PN-1 KO mice. Together, these data indicate that lack of extinction in PN-1 KO mice is associated with distinct changes in neuronal activity across the circuitry of the basal and central nuclei and the ITCs, supporting a differential impact on fear extinction of these amygdala substructures. They also suggest a new role for serine protease inhibitors such as PN-1 in modulating fear conditioning and extinction.

02/2010 | Eur J Neurosci   IF 3.7
Neuronal circuits of fear extinction
Herry C, Ferraguti F, Singewald N, Letzkus JJ, Ehrlich I, Lüthi A

2010 | Nature   IF 28.8
Encoding of conditioned fear in central amygdala inhibitory circuits.
Ciocchi S, Herry C, Grenier F, Wolff S.B, Letzkus J.J, Ehrlich L, Sprengel R, Deisseroth K, Stadler M, Müller C, Lüthi A

2010 | J Neurosci   IF 7.5
Erasing fear memories with extinction training
Quirk G.J, Paré D, Richardson R, Herry C, Monfils M.H, Schiller D, Vincentik A

04/09/2009 | Science
Perineuronal nets protect fear memories from erasure.
Gogolla N, Caroni P, Luthi A, Herry C

In adult animals, fear conditioning induces a permanent memory that is resilient to erasure by extinction. In contrast, during early postnatal development, extinction of conditioned fear leads to memory erasure, suggesting that fear memories are actively protected in adults. We show here that this protection is conferred by extracellular matrix chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) in the amygdala. The organization of CSPGs into perineuronal nets (PNNs) coincided with the developmental switch in fear memory resilience. In adults, degradation of PNNs by chondroitinase ABC specifically rendered subsequently acquired fear memories susceptible to erasure. This result indicates that intact PNNs mediate the formation of erasure-resistant fear memories and identifies a molecular mechanism closing a postnatal critical period during which traumatic memories can be erased by extinction.

25/06/2009 | Neuron
Amygdala inhibitory circuits and the control of fear memory.
Ehrlich I, Humeau Y, Grenier F, Ciocchi S, Herry C, Luthi A

Classical fear conditioning is a powerful behavioral paradigm that is widely used to study the neuronal substrates of learning and memory. Previous studies have clearly identified the amygdala as a key brain structure for acquisition and storage of fear memory traces. Whereas the majority of this work has focused on principal cells and glutamatergic transmission and its plasticity, recent studies have started to shed light on the intricate roles of local inhibitory circuits. Here, we review current understanding and emerging concepts of how local inhibitory circuits in the amygdala control the acquisition, expression, and extinction of conditioned fear at different levels.

2009 | Science
Perineuronal nets prortect fear memories from erasure
Gogolla N, Caroni P, Lüthi A, Herry C

31/07/2008 | Nature
Switching on and off fear by distinct neuronal circuits
Herry C, Ciocchi S, Senn V, Demmou L, Muller C, Luthi A

Switching between exploratory and defensive behaviour is fundamental to survival of many animals, but how this transition is achieved by specific neuronal circuits is not known. Here, using the converse behavioural states of fear extinction and its context-dependent renewal as a model in mice, we show that bi-directional transitions between states of high and low fear are triggered by a rapid switch in the balance of activity between two distinct populations of basal amygdala neurons. These two populations are integrated into discrete neuronal circuits differentially connected with the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex. Targeted and reversible neuronal inactivation of the basal amygdala prevents behavioural changes without affecting memory or expression of behaviour. Our findings indicate that switching between distinct behavioural states can be triggered by selective activation of specific neuronal circuits integrating sensory and contextual information. These observations provide a new framework for understanding context-dependent changes of fear behaviour.

11/2007 | Neurobiol Learn Mem
Biphasic ERK1/2 activation in both the hippocampus and amygdala may reveal a system consolidation of contextual fear memory
Trifilieff P, Calandreau L, Herry C, Mons N, Micheau J

There is accumulating evidences to suggest that memory consolidation in some conditions involves two waves of neuronal plastic change. Using two fear conditioning procedures in male C57BL/6J mice, we have recently shown that consolidation of the foreground contextual fear memory required two waves of ERK1/2 activation in hippocampal CA1, while consolidation of cue conditioning was only associated with the early phase of activation. The present experiment further showed that this bi-phasic pattern of ERK1/2 activation was not restricted to hippocampal CA1, but could also be observed in other fear memory-related brain areas. The unpaired conditioning procedure (context in foreground) induced two waves of ERK1/2 activation in hippocampal CA1 and CA3, as well as in the LA and BLA nuclei of the amygdala. In contrast, the paired conditioning procedure (context in background) led to a transient early phase only in hippocampal CA1 and LA. In addition, ERK1/2 phosphorylation in the hippocampus was found to correlate with that in the amygdala nuclei specifically after the unpaired procedure. Taken together, our data suggest that the observed biphasic pattern of neuronal plastic events may reflect the interplay between hippocampal and amygdala activity-dependent plasticity critical for the system consolidation of contextual fear memory.

30/05/2007 | J Neurosci
Processing of temporal unpredictability in human and animal amygdala
Herry C, Bach D R, Esposito F, Di Salle F, Perrig W J, Scheffler K, Luthi A, Seifritz E

The amygdala has been studied extensively for its critical role in associative fear conditioning in animals and humans. Noxious stimuli, such as those used for fear conditioning, are most effective in eliciting behavioral responses and amygdala activation when experienced in an unpredictable manner. Here, we show, using a translational approach in mice and humans, that unpredictability per se without interaction with motivational information is sufficient to induce sustained neural activity in the amygdala and to elicit anxiety-like behavior. Exposing mice to mere temporal unpredictability within a time series of neutral sound pulses in an otherwise neutral sensory environment increased expression of the immediate-early gene c-fos and prevented rapid habituation of single neuron activity in the basolateral amygdala. At the behavioral level, unpredictable, but not predictable, auditory stimulation induced avoidance and anxiety-like behavior. In humans, functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed that temporal unpredictably causes sustained neural activity in amygdala and anxiety-like behavior as quantified by enhanced attention toward emotional faces. Our findings show that unpredictability per se is an important feature of the sensory environment influencing habituation of neuronal activity in amygdala and emotional behavior and indicate that regulation of amygdala habituation represents an evolutionary-conserved mechanism for adapting behavior in anticipation of temporally unpredictable events.

08/2006 | Nat Neurosci
Generalization of amygdala LTP and conditioned fear in the absence of presynaptic inhibition
Shaban H, Humeau Y, Herry C, Cassasus G, Shigemoto R, Ciocchi S, Barbieri S, van der Putten H, Kaupmann K, Bettler B, Luthi A

Pavlovian fear conditioning, a simple form of associative learning, is thought to involve the induction of associative, NMDA receptor-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) in the lateral amygdala. Using a combined genetic and electrophysiological approach, we show here that lack of a specific GABA(B) receptor subtype, GABA(B(1a,2)), unmasks a nonassociative, NMDA receptor-independent form of presynaptic LTP at cortico-amygdala afferents. Moreover, the level of presynaptic GABA(B(1a,2)) receptor activation, and hence the balance between associative and nonassociative forms of LTP, can be dynamically modulated by local inhibitory activity. At the behavioral level, genetic loss of GABA(B(1a)) results in a generalization of conditioned fear to nonconditioned stimuli. Our findings indicate that presynaptic inhibition through GABA(B(1a,2)) receptors serves as an activity-dependent constraint on the induction of homosynaptic plasticity, which may be important to prevent the generalization of conditioned fear.

07/2006 | Eur J Neurosci
Extinction of auditory fear conditioning requires MAPK/ERK activation in the basolateral amygdala
Herry C, Trifilieff P, Micheau J, Luthi A, Mons N

Whereas the neuronal substrates underlying the acquisition of auditory fear conditioning have been widely studied, the substrates and mechanisms mediating the acquisition of fear extinction remain largely elusive. Previous reports indicate that consolidation of fear extinction depends on the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular-signal regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) signalling pathway and on protein synthesis in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Based on experiments using the fear-potentiated startle paradigm suggesting a role for neuronal plasticity in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) during fear extinction, we directly addressed whether MAPK/ERK signalling in the basolateral amygdala is necessary for the acquisition of fear extinction using conditioned freezing as a read-out. First, we investigated the regional and temporal pattern of MAPK/ERK activation in the BLA following extinction learning in C57Bl/6J mice. Our results indicate that acquisition of extinction is associated with an increase of phosphorylated MAPK/ERK in the BLA. Moreover, we found that inhibition of the MAPK/ERK signalling pathway by intrabasolateral amygdala infusion of the MEK inhibitor, U0126, completely blocks acquisition of extinction. Thus, our results indicate that the MAPK/ERK signalling pathway is required for extinction of auditory fear conditioning in the BLA, and support a role for neuronal plasticity in the BLA during the acquisition of fear extinction.

05/2006 | Learn Mem
Foreground contextual fear memory consolidation requires two independent phases of hippocampal ERK/CREB activation.
Trifilieff P, Herry C, Vanhoutte P, Caboche J, Desmedt A, Riedel G, Mons N, Micheau J

Fear conditioning is a popular model for investigating physiological and cellular mechanisms of memory formation. In this paradigm, a footshock is either systematically associated to a tone (paired conditioning) or is pseudorandomly distributed (unpaired conditioning). In the former procedure, the tone/shock association is acquired, whereas in the latter procedure, the context/shock association will prevail. Animals with chronically implanted recording electrodes show enhanced amplitude of the extracellularly recorded field EPSP in CA1 pyramidal cells for up to 24 h after unpaired, but not paired, fear conditioning. This is paralleled by a differential activation of the ERK/CREB pathway in CA1, which is monophasic in paired conditioning (0-15 min post-conditioning), but biphasic (0-1 h and 9-12 h post-conditioning) in unpaired conditioning as revealed by immunocytochemistry and Western blotting. Intrahippocampal injection of the MEK inhibitor U0126 prior to each phase prevents the activation of both ERK1/2 and CREB after unpaired conditioning. Block of any activation phase leads to memory impairment. We finally reveal that the biphasic activation of ERK/CREB activity is independently regulated, yet both phases are critically required for the consolidation of long-term memories following unpaired fear conditioning. These data provide compelling evidence that CA1 serves different forms of memory by expressing differential cellular mechanisms that are dependent on the training regime.

06/01/2005 | Neuron
Dendritic spine heterogeneity determines afferent-specific Hebbian plasticity in the amygdala
Humeau Y, Herry C, Kemp N, Shaban H, Fourcaudot E, Bissiere S, Luthi A

Functional compartmentalization of dendrites is thought to underlie afferent-specific integration of neural activity in laminar brain structures. Here we show that in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA), an area lacking apparent laminar organization, thalamic and cortical afferents converge on the same dendrites, contacting neighboring but morphologically and functionally distinct spine types. Large spines contacted by thalamic afferents exhibited larger Ca(2+) transients during action potential backpropagation than did small spines contacted by cortical afferents. Accordingly, induction of Hebbian plasticity, dependent on postsynaptic spikes, was restricted to thalamic afferents. This synapse-specific effect involved activation of R-type voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channels preferentially located at thalamic inputs. These results indicate that afferent-specific mechanisms of postsynaptic, associative Hebbian plasticity in LA projection neurons depend on local, spine-specific morphological and molecular properties, rather than global differences between dendritic compartments.

Extinction of classical fear conditioning is thought to involve activity-dependent potentiation of synaptic transmission in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), resulting in the inhibition of amygdala-dependent fear responses. While many studies have addressed the mechanisms underlying extinction learning, it is unclear what determines whether extinction memory is consolidated or whether spontaneous recovery of the fear response occurs. Here we show, using a combined electrophysiological and immunocytochemical approach, that spontaneous recovery of conditioned fear in mice is associated with a prolonged expression of long-term depression of synaptic transmission in the mPFC and the failure of induction of the immediate-early genesc-Fos and zif268 in the mPFC and the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala. This suggests that coordinated activity-dependent changes in gene expression in the mPFC and the amygdala may underlie the formation of long-term fear extinction memory.

Accumulative evidence indicates that acute (before extinction) and long-lasting (during extinction) depression can occur at excitatory synapses in mouse medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during re-exposure to a tone (conditioned stimulus: CS), previously paired with footshock (unconditioned stimulus: US). As recently shown, the long-term depression (LTD)-like plasticity in the mPFC does not interfere with extinction of CS-evoked freezing but predicts spontaneous recovery of this fear response. Here, the objectives were to investigate: (i). whether a resistance to extinction without any prefrontal acute synaptic plasticity could produce LTD-like changes, and (ii). by the use of paired-pulse facilitation (PPF) analyses, whether pre- or post-synaptic mechanisms were involved in this LTD phenomenon. Preliminary analyses indicated that levels of acute depression did not correlate with the degree of fear acquisition (effects of number of CS-US pairings). As a consequence, mice conditioned with 2CS+ or 2CS+/2CS- (partial reinforcement of the CS known to induce resistance to extinction) exhibited CS-associated freezing without any acute synaptic depression in the mPFC. However, during further CS-alone presentations, the 2CS+/2CS- group developed LTD-like changes that accompanied their resistance to extinguish freezing to the CS. In contrast, the 2CS+ group normally extinguished their conditioned freezing with synaptic transmission remaining at baseline levels. PPF analyses revealed that facilitation was unchanged following prefrontal LTD. These data, combined with our previous findings, (i). support a critical involvement of prefrontal LTD-like changes in spontaneous recovery of fear responses, and (ii). suggest a post-synaptic site for these changes.

Considerable efforts have been made to identify changes of brain synaptic plasticity associated with fear conditioning. However, for both clinical applications and our fundamental understanding of memory processes, it appears also necessary to investigate synaptic plasticity related to extinction. We previously showed that extinction of freezing to a tone conditioned stimulus (CS; previously paired with footshock) in mice results in a sequence of depression and potentiation of synaptic efficacy in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These data as well as those from lesion studies suggest that the direction of changes in prefrontal synaptic plasticity may modulate extinction of learned fear. To test this, we analyzed the effects of low-frequency stimulation (LFS) and high-frequency stimulation (HFS) of the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus, known to induce prefrontal long-term depression (LTD) and potentiation (LTP), respectively, on extinction. We found that maintenance of the depression phase, using thalamic LFS, was associated with resistance to extinction. Thalamic HFS applied before extinction testing had no effect on the rate of extinction. However, 1 week follow-up tests revealed that the memory of extinction was intact in these mice (with prefrontal LTP) and in control mice displaying prefrontal LTP-like changes, whereas control mice that did not exhibit such changes displayed a return of freezing to the CS. The results suggest that after extinction the lack of depression-LTP-like conversion sequence in the mPFC synaptic efficacy may profoundly alter the process of consolidation.

We studied changes in thalamo-prefrontal cortical transmission in behaving mice following both low-frequency stimulation of the mediodorsal thalamus (MD) and during extinction of a conditioned fear response. Electrical stimulation of the MD induces a field potential in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) characterized by two initial negative-positive complexes (N1-P1 and N2-P2) followed by two positive-negative complexes (P2-N3 and P3-N4). The N1-P1 and N2-P2 complexes were identified as resulting from orthodromic and antidromic prefrontal activation, respectively. Because the two complexes were not often easily dissociated, plasticity in the prefrontal synaptic transmission was considered to result from changes in N1-P2 amplitude. Low-frequency thalamic stimulation (1, 200 pulses at 2 Hz) produced either long-term (at least 32 min) depression or potentiation of the N1-P2 amplitude. Mice submitted to fear conditioning (tone-shock association), displayed on the first day of extinction (tone-alone presentations) a strong freezing behavior, which decreased progressively, but was still high the following day. Extinction of conditioned fear was accompanied the first day by a depression of prefrontal transmission, which was converted into potentiation the following day. Potentiation of prefrontal transmission lasted at least 24 h following the second day of the fear extinction procedure. In conclusion, low-frequency thalamic stimulation can produce, in behaving mice, either depression or potentiation of prefrontal synaptic transmission. Decrease in prefrontal synaptic transmission observed during the first day of extinction may reflect processing of the high degree of predictiveness of danger (unconditioned stimulus: US) by the aversive conditioned stimulus (CS). However, the subsequent potentiation of transmission in the mPFC may be related to processing of cognitive information such as the CS will no longer be followed by the US, even if emotional response (freezing) to the CS is still high.