Medial prefrontal cortex neuronal circuits in fear behavior

Neuroscience. 2013 Jun 14;240:219-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Abstract

The 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fear*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology*