Social Behavior Is Modulated by Valence-Encoding mPFC-Amygdala Sub-circuitry

Cell Rep. 2020 Jul 14;32(2):107899. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107899.


The prefrontal cortex and amygdala are anatomical substrates linked to both social information and emotional valence processing, but it is not known whether sub-circuits in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) that project to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) are recruited and functionally contribute to social approach-avoidance behavior. Using retrograde labeling of mPFC projections to the BLA, we find that BLA-projecting neurons in the infralimbic cortex (IL) are preferentially activated in response to a social cue as compared with BLA-projecting neurons in the prelimbic cortex (PL). Chemogenetic interrogation of these sub-circuits shows that activation of PL-BLA or inhibition of IL-BLA circuits impairs social behavior. Sustained closed-loop optogenetic activation of PL-BLA circuitry induces social impairment, corresponding to a negative emotional state as revealed by real-time place preference behavioral avoidance. Reactivation of foot shock-responsive PL-BLA circuitry impairs social behavior. Altogether, these data suggest a circuit-level mechanism by which valence-encoding mPFC-BLA sub-circuits shape social approach-avoidance behavior.

Keywords: BLA; chemogenetics; emotional valence; infralimbic; mPFC; mPFC-BLA circuitry; optogenetics; prelimbic; social preference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Optogenetics
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Time Factors