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The amygdala modulates prepulse inhibition of the auditory startle reflex through excitatory inputs to the caudal pontine reticular nucleus

Authors: Cano, Jose Carlos; Huang, Wanyun; Fénelon, Karine

Online: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-01050-z

Issue: BMC Biol. 2021 Jun 3;19(1):116.


Sensorimotor gating is a fundamental pre-attentive process that is defined as the inhibition of a motor response by a sensory event. Sensorimotor gating, commonly measured using the prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the auditory startle reflex task, is impaired in patients suffering from various neurological and psychiatric disorders. PPI deficits are a hallmark of schizophrenia, and they are often associated with attention and other cognitive impairments. Although the reversal of PPI deficits in animal models is widely used in pre-clinical research for antipsychotic drug screening, the neurotransmitter systems and synaptic mechanisms underlying PPI are still not resolved, even under physiological conditions. Recent evidence ruled out the longstanding hypothesis that PPI is mediated by midbrain cholinergic inputs to the caudal pontine reticular nucleus (PnC). Instead, glutamatergic, glycinergic, and GABAergic inhibitory mechanisms are now suggested to be crucial for PPI, at the PnC level. Since amygdalar dysfunctions alter PPI and are common to pathologies displaying sensorimotor gating deficits, the present study was designed to test that direct projections to the PnC originating from the amygdala contribute to PPI.