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Divergence Between Thalamic and Cortical Inputs to Lateral Amygdala During Juvenile–Adult Transition in Mice

  • Bing-Xing Pan
    Affiliations
    Unit on Behavioral Genetics, Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Wataru Ito
    Affiliations
    Unit on Behavioral Genetics, Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Alexei Morozov
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Alexei Morozov, Ph.D., Unit on Behavioral Genetics, Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, 35 Convent Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20892
    Affiliations
    Unit on Behavioral Genetics, Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
    Search for articles by this author

      Background

      Adolescence is considered a critical time of life for emotional development in humans. During this period the amygdala, which regulates emotions, undergoes structural reorganization. Auditory fear conditioning, a form of amygdala-dependent emotional learning, occurs differently in juvenile and adult rodents. Because this learning is mediated by plastic changes in the thalamic and cortical inputs to lateral amygdala (LA), we investigated changes in synaptic properties of these inputs during juvenile-to-adult transition.

      Methods

      Whole-cell patch clamp recording in amygdala slices from juvenile and young adult mice was conducted to investigate long-term potentiation and basal synaptic transmission in the thalamic and cortical inputs to LA.

      Results

      We show that physiological differences develop between thalamic and cortical afferents to LA during the juvenile-to-adult transition. Although in juvenile mice the two pathways have similar properties, in young adult mice the thalamic pathway has reduced plasticity, increased number of quanta released by a single action potential, and decreased proportion of silent synapses.

      Conclusions

      Changes in thalamic but not cortical inputs to amygdala take place during late development and might contribute to differences in auditory fear conditioning between juveniles and adults.

      Key Words

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