Neuronal cell types are arranged in brain-wide circuits that guide behavior. In mice, the superior colliculus innervates a set of targets that direct orienting and defensive actions. We combined functional ultrasound imaging (fUSI) with optogenetics to reveal the network of brain regions functionally activated by four collicular cell types. Stimulating each neuronal group triggered different behaviors and activated distinct sets of brain nuclei. This included regions not previously thought to mediate defensive behaviors, for example, the posterior paralaminar nuclei of the thalamus (PPnT), which we show to play a role in suppressing habituation. Neuronal recordings with Neuropixels probes show that (1) patterns of spiking activity and fUSI signals correlate well in space and (2) neurons in downstream nuclei preferentially respond to innately threatening visual stimuli. This work provides insight into the functional organization of the networks governing innate behaviors and demonstrates an experimental approach to explore the whole-brain neuronal activity downstream of targeted cell types.
Keywords: defensive behaviors; functional ultrasound imaging; innate behaviors; mouse; optogenetics; superior colliculus.
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