Anterior cingulate cortex and its input to the basolateral amygdala control innate fear response

Nat Commun. 2018 Jul 16;9(1):2744. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05090-y.


Prefrontal brain areas are implicated in the control of fear behavior. However, how prefrontal circuits control fear response to innate threat is poorly understood. Here, we show that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and its input to the basolateral nucleus of amygdala (BLA) contribute to innate fear response to a predator odor in mice. Optogenetic inactivation of the ACC enhances freezing response to fox urine without affecting conditioned freezing. Conversely, ACC stimulation robustly inhibits both innate and conditioned freezing. Circuit tracing and slice patch recordings demonstrate a monosynaptic glutamatergic connectivity of ACC-BLA but no or very sparse ACC input to the central amygdala. Finally, our optogenetic manipulations of the ACC-BLA projection suggest its inhibitory control of innate freezing response to predator odors. Together, our results reveal the role of the ACC and its projection to BLA in innate fear response to olfactory threat stimulus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basolateral Nuclear Complex / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Coyotes / physiology
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroshock
  • Fear / drug effects*
  • Fear / physiology
  • Female
  • Foxes / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Optogenetics
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Urine / chemistry