Amygdala-ventral striatum circuit activation decreases long-term fear

Susana S. Correia, Anna G. McGrath, Allison Lee, Ann M. Graybiel, Ki A. Goosens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

In humans, activation of the ventral striatum, a region associated with reward processing, is associated with the extinction of fear, a goal in the treatment of fear-related disorders. This evidence suggests that extinction of aversive memories engages reward-related circuits, but a causal relationship between activity in a reward circuit and fear extinction has not been demonstrated. Here, we identify a basolateral amygdala (BLA)-ventral striatum (NAc) pathway that is activated by extinction training. Enhanced recruitment of this circuit during extinction learning, either by pairing reward with fear extinction training or by optogenetic stimulation of this circuit during fear extinction, reduces the return of fear that normally follows extinction training. Our findings thus identify a specific BLA-NAc reward circuit that can regulate the persistence of fear extinction and point toward a potential therapeutic target for disorders in which the return of fear following extinction therapy is an obstacle to treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12669
JournaleLife
Volume5
Issue numberSeptember
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes

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