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Enhanced activity of pyramidal neurons in the infralimbic cortex drives anxiety behavior

posted on 24.01.2019, 18:42 authored by Laura Berg, Josephine Eckardt, Olivia Andrea Masseck

We show that in an animal model of anxiety the overall excitation, particularly in the infralimbic region of the medial prefrontal cortex (IL), is increased and that the activity ratio between excitatory pyramidal neurons and inhibitory interneurons (AR PN/IN) is shifted towards excitation. The same change in AR PN/IN is evident for wildtype mice, which have been exposed to an anxiety stimulus. We hypothesize, that an elevated activity and the imbalance of excitation (PN) and inhibition (IN) within the neuronal microcircuitry of the prefrontal cortex is responsible for anxiety behaviour and employed optogenetic methods in freely moving mice to verify our findings. Consistent with our hypothesis elevation of pyramidal neuron activity in the infralimbic region of the prefrontal cortex significantly enhanced anxiety levels in several behavioural tasks by shifting the AR PN/IN to excitation, without affecting motor behaviour, thus revealing a novel mechanism by which anxiety is facilitated.