Prefrontal cortical control of a brainstem social behavior circuit
Authors: Franklin TB, Silva BA, Perova Z, Marrone L, Masferrer ME, Zhan Y, Kaplan A, Greetham L, Verrechia V, Halman A, Pagella S, Vyssotski AL, Illarionova A, Grinevich V, Branco T, Gross CT
CellNetworks People:
Journal: Nat Neurosci. 2017 Feb;20(2):260-270. doi: 10.1038/nn.4470

The prefrontal cortex helps adjust an organism's behavior to its environment. In particular, numerous studies have implicated the prefrontal cortex in the control of social behavior, but the neural circuits that mediate these effects remain unknown. Here we investigated behavioral adaptation to social defeat in mice and uncovered a critical contribution of neural projections from the medial prefrontal cortex to the dorsal periaqueductal gray, a brainstem area vital for defensive responses. Social defeat caused a weakening of functional connectivity between these two areas, and selective inhibition of these projections mimicked the behavioral effects of social defeat. These findings define a specific neural projection by which the prefrontal cortex can control and adapt social behavior.