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COREFEAR Report Summary

Project ID: 341139
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Germany

Mid-Term Report Summary - COREFEAR (Functional wiring of the core neural network of innate fear)

This project constitutes the first effort to identify the neural basis of social fear, a key determinant of human behavior and pathology. In the first part of the funded project we have used cell-type and projection-specific neural inhibition tools in mice to determine the relative contributions of the medial hypothalamus and downstream periaqueductal grey to the expression and memory encoding of social fear. We then identified an important role for prefrontal cortex in the inhibition of social fear and showed that plasticity in the prefrontal cortex underlies the social fear seen in mice exposed repeatedly to an aggressive male (“bully”). By defining the cell-types, connections, and neural activity responsible for fear of aggressive conspecifics in the mouse as well as the minimal ancestral core fear network, our work is opening up previously unexplored avenues for the targeted intervention in human fear and for a more complete understanding of the neural mechanisms of behavior.

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