Circuit and synaptic organization of forebrain-to-midbrain pathways that promote and suppress vocalization.
Animals vocalize only in certain behavioral contexts, but the circuits and synapses through which forebrain neurons trigger or suppress vocalization remain unknown. Here, we used transsynaptic tracing to identify two populations of inhibitory neurons that lie upstream of neurons in the periaqueductal gray (PAG) that gate the production of ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in mice (i.e. PAG-USV neurons). Activating PAG-projecting neurons in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus (POAPAG neurons) elicited USV production in the absence of social cues. In contrast, activating PAG-projecting neurons in the central-medial boundary zone of the amygdala (AmgC/M-PAG neurons) transiently suppressed USV production without disrupting non-vocal social behavior. Optogenetics-assisted circuit mapping in brain slices revealed that POAPAG neurons directly inhibit PAG interneurons, which in turn inhibit PAG-USV neurons, whereas AmgC/M-PAG neurons directly inhibit PAG-USV neurons. These experiments identify two major forebrain inputs to the PAG that trigger and suppress vocalization, respectively, while also establishing the synaptic mechanisms through which these neurons exert opposing behavioral effects.
Michael, V; Goffinet, J; Pearson, J; Wang, F; Tschida, K; Mooney, R
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