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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cholinergic activation of the basolateral amygdala regulates unlearned freezing behavior in rats.

Recent evidence suggests that the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is involved in the expression of freezing behavior in rats. This study investigated the effects of unilateral phthalic acid (PA) lesions of the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NBM) on fear-motivated behavior in response to a natural predator-stimulus. Such lesions preferentially disrupt the cholinergic projection to the BLA. Rats were placed in a chamber containing either real or fake cat hair, and the amount of time spent freezing and the number of contacts made with the stimulus were measured. Compared with Sham control rats, the PA NBM-lesioned rats displayed significantly less freezing in the presence of the cat hair. Both the Sham and lesioned rats made fewer contacts with the real than the fake cat hair. Pre-testing intra-BLA infusion of the direct muscarinic cholinergic agonist oxotremorine ipsilateral to the PA NBM-lesion attenuated the freezing deficit. The indirect non-specific cholinergic agonist physostigmine increased the time spent freezing in Sham rats, but did not attenuate the freezing deficit in the NBM-lesioned rats. Sham and NBM-lesioned rats given oxotremorine infusions made fewer contacts with either the real or the fake cat hair. The PA NBM-lesion did not affect open field activity. These findings indicate that muscarinic cholinergic activation in the BLA from the NBM influences fear-motivated freezing behavior.[1]


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