The zona incerta is a subthalamic nucleus proposed to link sensory stimuli with motor responses to guide behavior, but its functional role is not well established. Using mice of either sex, we studied the effect of manipulating zona incerta GABAergic cells on the expression of a signaled locomotor action, known as signaled active avoidance. We found that modulation of GABAergic zona incerta cells, but not of cells in the adjacent thalamic reticular nucleus (NRT), fully controls the expression of signaled active avoidance responses. Inhibition of zona incerta GABAergic cells drives active avoidance responses, while excitation of these cells blocks signaled active avoidance mainly by inhibiting cells in the midbrain pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT). The zona incerta regulates signaled locomotion in the midbrain.
Copyright © 2020 Hormigo et al.