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. 2019 Jun;22(6):921-932.
doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0404-5. Epub 2019 May 24.

Zona Incerta GABAergic Neurons Integrate Prey-Related Sensory Signals and Induce an Appetitive Drive to Promote Hunting

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Zona Incerta GABAergic Neurons Integrate Prey-Related Sensory Signals and Induce an Appetitive Drive to Promote Hunting

Zheng-Dong Zhao et al. Nat Neurosci. .

Abstract

The neural substrates for predatory hunting, an evolutionarily conserved appetitive behavior, remain largely undefined. Photoactivation of zona incerta (ZI) GABAergic neurons strongly promotes hunting of both live and artificial prey. Conversely, photoinhibition of these neurons or deletion of their GABA function severely impairs hunting. Here electrophysiological recordings reveal that ZI neurons integrate prey-related multisensory signals and discriminate prey from non-prey targets. Visual or whisker sensory deprivation reduces calcium responses induced by prey introduction and attack and impair hunting. ZI photoactivation largely corrects the hunting impairment caused by sensory deprivations. Motivational and reinforcing assays reveal that ZI photoactivation is associated with a strong appetitive drive, causing repetitive self-stimulatory behaviors. These ZI neurons project to the periaqueductal gray matter to induce hunting and motivation. Thus, we have delineated the function of ZI GABAergic neurons in hunting, which integrates prey-related sensory signals into prey detection and attack and induces a strong appetitive motivational drive.

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