Cellular mechanisms of infralimbic and prelimbic prefrontal cortical inhibition and dopaminergic modulation of basolateral amygdala neurons in vivo

J Neurosci. 2002 Jan 1;22(1):324-37. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.22-01-00324.2002.


The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is believed to be involved in schizophrenia, depression, and other disorders that display affective components. The neuronal activity of the BLA, and BLA-mediated affective behaviors, are driven by sensory stimuli transmitted in part from sensory association cortical regions. These same behaviors may be regulated by prefrontal cortical (PFC) inputs to the BLA. However, it is unclear how two sets of glutamatergic inputs to the BLA can impose opposing actions on BLA-mediated behaviors; specifically, it is unclear how PFC inputs exert inhibitory actions over BLA projection neurons. Dopamine (DA) receptor activation enhances BLA-mediated behaviors. Although we have demonstrated that DA suppresses medial PFC inputs to the BLA and enhances sensory cortical inputs, the precise cellular mechanisms for its actions are unknown. In this study we use in vivo intracellular recordings to determine the means by which glutamatergic inputs from the PFC inhibit BLA projection neurons, contrast that with glutamatergic inputs from the association sensory cortex (Te3) that drive BLA projection neurons, and examine the effects of DA receptor activation on neuronal excitability, spontaneous postsynaptic potentials (PSPs), and PFC-evoked PSPs. We found that PFC stimulation inhibits BLA projection neurons by three mechanisms: chloride-mediated hyperpolarization, a persistent decrease in neuronal input resistance, and shunting of PSPs; all effects are possibly attributable to recruitment of inhibitory interneurons. DA receptor activation enhanced neuronal input resistance by a postsynaptic mechanism (via DA D2 receptors), suppressed spontaneously occurring and PFC-evoked PSPs (via DA D1 receptors), and enhanced Te3-evoked PSPs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Limbic System / cytology
  • Limbic System / physiology*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / drug effects
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine / metabolism
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Dopamine