Bridging the Gap: Towards a cell-type specific understanding of neural circuits underlying fear behaviors

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2016 Nov;135:27-39. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2016.07.025. Epub 2016 Jul 26.


Fear and anxiety-related disorders are remarkably common and debilitating, and are often characterized by dysregulated fear responses. Rodent models of fear learning and memory have taken great strides towards elucidating the specific neuronal circuitries underlying the learning of fear responses. The present review addresses recent research utilizing optogenetic approaches to parse circuitries underlying fear behaviors. It also highlights the powerful advances made when optogenetic techniques are utilized in a genetically defined, cell-type specific, manner. The application of next-generation genetic and sequencing approaches in a cell-type specific context will be essential for a mechanistic understanding of the neural circuitry underlying fear behavior and for the rational design of targeted, circuit specific, pharmacologic interventions for the treatment and prevention of fear-related disorders.

Keywords: Amygdala; Anxiety; Cell-type specific; Conditioning; Fear; Optogenetics; TRAP; Threat; Translating ribosome affinity purification.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Optogenetics / methods*