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Published September 11, 2014 | Accepted Version + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Antagonistic Control of Social versus Repetitive Self-Grooming Behaviors by Separable Amygdala Neuronal Subsets


Animals display a range of innate social behaviors that play essential roles in survival and reproduction. While the medial amygdala (MeA) has been implicated in prototypic social behaviors such as aggression, the circuit-level mechanisms controlling such behaviors are not well understood. Using cell-type-specific functional manipulations, we find that distinct neuronal populations in the MeA control different social and asocial behaviors. A GABAergic subpopulation promotes aggression and two other social behaviors, while neighboring glutamatergic neurons promote repetitive self-grooming, an asocial behavior. Moreover, this glutamatergic subpopulation inhibits social interactions independently of its effect to promote self-grooming, while the GABAergic subpopulation inhibits self-grooming, even in a nonsocial context. These data suggest that social versus repetitive asocial behaviors are controlled in an antagonistic manner by inhibitory versus excitatory amygdala subpopulations, respectively. These findings provide a framework for understanding circuit-level mechanisms underlying opponency between innate behaviors, with implications for their perturbation in psychiatric disorders.

Additional Information

© 2014 Elsevier Inc. Under an Elsevier user license. Received: March 4, 2014. Revised: May 27, 2014. Accepted: July 17, 2014. Published: September 11, 2014. We thank X. Wang, X. Da, M. McCardle, R. Robertson, and C. Park for tech- nical assistance, T. Anthony for the ChR2 virus, the Caltech GEMS and animal facility for maintaining mice, M. Zelikowsky, H. Cai, and K. Asahina for commenting on the manuscript, and members of the D.J.A. laboratory for discussions. W.H. is a Helen Hey Whitney Fellow. D.J.A. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and a Paul G. Allen Distinguished Investigator. This work was supported in part by NIH grants MH085082 and MH070053, and a grant from Gerald Fischbach and the Simons Foundation. W.H. and D.J.A. designed the experiments. W.H. performed most of the experiments. D.-W.K. performed electrophysiological recordings. D.J.A. supervised the project. W.H. and D.J.A wrote the manuscript.

Attached Files

Accepted Version - nihms625595.pdf

Supplemental Material - mmc1.mp4

Supplemental Material - mmc2.mp4

Supplemental Material - mmc3.mp4

Supplemental Material - mmc4.mp4

Supplemental Material - mmc5.mp4

Supplemental Material - mmc6.mp4

Supplemental Material - mmc7supp.pdf


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August 20, 2023
October 17, 2023