Editors' ChoiceNeurobiology

Amygdala, Neuropeptides, and Fear Behavior

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Science's STKE  12 Apr 2005:
Vol. 2005, Issue 279, pp. tw133
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2792005tw133

The neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin have opposite effects on fear- and anxiety-related behaviors. At the cellular level, both neuropeptides increase neuronal excitability in different brain regions, including the central amygdala, but the neuronal network underlying these opposite behavioral effects is not yet fully understood. Huber et al. identified discrete, anatomically separate populations of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors within the central amygdala. They used oxytocin and vasopressin agonists and antagonists to elicit electrophysiologic neuronal changes and were able to construct a hypothetical neural network in which oxytocin and vasopressin exerted opposing effects on anxiety and fear.

D. Huber, P. Veinante, R. Stoop, Vasopressin and oxytocin excite distinct neuronal populations in the central amygdala. Science 308, 245-248 (2005). [Abstract] [Full Text]