Click For Photo: https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2019/04/190423133608_1_540x360.jpg
When a mouse is hungry, it is going to forage for food; when it is anxious, it is going to stop exploring its environment and freeze or flee. How such internal states correlate with the behavior of an animal has been studied in detail. However, little is known about how the brain encodes and controls internal states.
Jan Gründemann, a SNF Ambizione Fellow in Lüthi's group and now a professor at the University of Basel, joined forces with Yael Bitterman, a computational neuroscientist working as a postdoc in the Lüthi group, to investigate the neuronal activity in the amygdala of freely moving mice in various states. The amygdala is a small almond-shaped brain structure that is considered a hub for regulating affective, homeostatic (hunger and thirst) and social behaviors via widespread connections with many brain regions. The amygdala is suggested to play a role in the coordination of brain states, but that role is not well understood.
Microscope - Technique - Gründemann - Bitterman - Activity
Using a miniaturized microscope imaging technique, Gründemann and Bitterman tracked neuronal activity in the amygdala of mice across different environments that prompted various internal states and behaviors. The results were rather unexpected: The researchers identified two large antagonistic sets of neurons -- called ensembles -- that were active in opposite behavioral states: When the mice were exploring their environment, neuronal ensemble 1 was active; when they were not exploring (meaning that they were in non-exploratory defensive states), neuronal ensemble 2 was...
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