Exploration driven by a medial preoptic circuit facilitates fear extinction in mice

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A circuit running from CamKII alpha-positive neurons of the medial preoptic area to the ventral periaqueductal gray induces exploration of a fear-conditioned place and facilitates fear extinction in mice. Repetitive exposure to fear-associated targets is a typical treatment for patients with panic or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The success of exposure therapy depends on the active exploration of a fear-eliciting target despite an innate drive to avoid it. Here, we found that a circuit running from CaMKII alpha-positive neurons of the medial preoptic area to the ventral periaqueductal gray (MPA-vPAG) facilitates the exploration of a fear-conditioned zone and subsequent fear extinction in mice. Activation or inhibition of this circuit did not induce preference/avoidance of a specific zone. Repeated entries into the fear-conditioned zone, induced by the motivation to chase a head-mounted object due to MPA-vPAG circuit photostimulation, facilitated fear extinction. Our results show how the brain forms extinction memory against avoidance of a fearful target and suggest a circuit-based mechanism of exposure therapy.
Publisher
NATURE PORTFOLIO
Issue Date
2023-01
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Citation

COMMUNICATIONS BIOLOGY, v.6, no.1

ISSN
2399-3642
DOI
10.1038/s42003-023-04442-9
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/305464
Appears in Collection
BC-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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