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Science 308 (5719): 245-248

Copyright © 2005 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Vasopressin and Oxytocin Excite Distinct Neuronal Populations in the Central Amygdala

Daniel Huber,1 Pierre Veinante,2 Ron Stoop1*

Abstract: Vasopressin and oxytocin strongly modulate autonomic fear responses, through mechanisms that are still unclear. We describe how these neuropeptides excite distinct neuronal populations in the central amygdala, which provides the major output of the amygdaloid complex to the autonomic nervous system. We identified these two neuronal populations as part of an inhibitory network, through which vasopressin and oxytocin modulate the integration of excitatory information from the basolateral amygdala and cerebral cortex in opposite manners. Through this network, the expression and endogenous activation of vasopressin and oxytocin receptors may regulate the autonomic expression of fear.

1 Department of Cellular Biology and Morphology and Centre for Psychiatric Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
2 Neurophysiologie Cellulaire et Intégrée, Unité Mixte de Recherche 7519, CNRS, Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rstoop{at}

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