Amygdala inputs drive feedforward inhibition in the medial prefrontal cortex

J Neurophysiol. 2013 Jul;110(1):221-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.00531.2012. Epub 2013 May 8.


Although interactions between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (PFC) are critical for emotional guidance of behavior, the manner in which amygdala affects PFC function is not clear. Whereas basolateral amygdala (BLA) output neurons exhibit many characteristics associated with excitatory neurotransmission, BLA stimulation typically inhibits PFC cell firing. This apparent discrepancy could be explained if local PFC inhibitory interneurons were activated by BLA inputs. Here, we used in vivo juxtacellular and intracellular recordings in anesthetized rats to investigate whether BLA inputs evoke feedforward inhibition in the PFC. Juxtacellular recordings revealed that BLA stimulation evoked action potentials in PFC interneurons and silenced most pyramidal neurons. Intracellular recordings from PFC pyramidal neurons showed depolarizing postsynaptic potentials, with multiple components evoked by BLA stimulation. These responses exhibited a relatively negative reversal potential (Erev), suggesting the contribution of a chloride component. Intracellular administration or pressure ejection of the GABA-A antagonist picrotoxin resulted in action-potential firing during the BLA-evoked response, which had a more depolarized Erev. These results suggest that BLA stimulation engages a powerful inhibitory mechanism within the PFC mediated by local circuit interneurons.

Keywords: GABA; electrophysiology; fast-spiking interneuron; in vivo intracellular recording; parvalbumin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley