Inhibitory gating of basolateral Amygdala inputs to the prefrontal cortex

Laura M. McGarry, Adam G. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interactions between the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) regulate emotional behaviors. However, a circuit-level understanding of functional connections between these brain regions remains incomplete. The BLA sends prominent glutamatergic projections to the PFC, but the overall influence of these inputs is predominantly inhibitory. Here we combine targeted recordings and optogenetics to examine the synaptic underpinnings of this inhibition in the mouse infralimbic PFC. We find that BLA inputs preferentially target layer 2 corticoamygdala over neighboring corticostriatal neurons. However, these inputs make even stronger connections onto neighboring parvalbumin and somatostatin expressing interneurons. Inhibitory connections from these two populations of interneurons are also much stronger onto corticoamygdala neurons. Consequently, BLA inputs are able to drive robust feedforward inhibition via two parallel interneuron pathways. Moreover, the contributions of these interneurons shift during repetitive activity, due to differences in short-term synaptic dynamics. Thus, parvalbumin interneurons are activated at the start of stimulus trains, whereas somatostatin interneuron activation builds during these trains. Together, these results reveal how the BLA impacts the PFC through a complex interplay of direct excitation and feedforward inhibition. They also highlight the roles of targeted connections onto multiple projection neurons and interneurons in this cortical circuit. Our findings provide a mechanistic understanding for how the BLA can influence the PFC circuit, with important implications for how this circuit participates in the regulation of emotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9391-9406
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 7 2016


  • Basolateral amygdala
  • Inhibition
  • Interneuron
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Projection neuron
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibitory gating of basolateral Amygdala inputs to the prefrontal cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this