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Integrated Control of Predatory Hunting by the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala.

Cell | Jan 12, 2017

Superior predatory skills led to the evolutionary triumph of jawed vertebrates. However, the mechanisms by which the vertebrate brain controls predation remain largely unknown. Here, we reveal a critical role for the central nucleus of the amygdala in predatory hunting. Both optogenetic and chemogenetic stimulation of central amygdala of mice elicited predatory-like attacks upon both insect and artificial prey. Coordinated control of cervical and mandibular musculatures, which is necessary for accurately positioning lethal bites on prey, was mediated by a central amygdala projection to the reticular formation in the brainstem. In contrast, prey pursuit was mediated by projections to the midbrain periaqueductal gray matter. Targeted lesions to these two pathways separately disrupted biting attacks upon prey versus the initiation of prey pursuit. Our findings delineate a neural network that integrates distinct behavioral modules and suggest that central amygdala neurons instruct predatory hunting across jawed vertebrates.

Pubmed ID: 28086095 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Animals | Anxiety | Central Amygdaloid Nucleus | Electromyography | Interneurons | Mandible | Mice | Neck | Neurons | Periaqueductal Gray | Predatory Behavior

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