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Feedback of the Amygdala Globally Modulates
Visual Response of Primary Visual Cortex in the Cat

Hongbo YU

Vision Research Laboratory
Center for Brain Science Research and School of Life Sciences
Fudan University


The amygdala is an important center for emotional behavior, and it influences other cortical regions. Long feedback projections from the amygdala to the primary visual cortex were recently reported in the cat and monkey, two animal models for vision research. However, the detailed functional roles of these extensive projections still remain largely unknown. In this study, intrinsic signal optical imaging was used to investigate the visually driven responses of the primary visual cortex of cats as focal drugs were injected into the basal nucleus of the amygdala. Both the visually evoked global signals and differential signals in the functional maps of primary visual cortex were enhanced or reduced by glutamate-induced activation or GABA-induced deactivation of neurons in the amygdala, respectively. This modulation was found to be non-selective, consistent with the gain control mechanism—both the preferred orientation and its mapped orientation tuning width remained unchanged. The single unit recordings showed similar results supporting the above observations. These results suggest that the distal feedback signals of the amygdala enhance the primary sensory information processing in a non-selective, gain-control fashion. This provides direct neurophysiological evidence and insight for previous studies on emotional-cue related psychological studies.

Short Bio

B. A. degree in Biology in 1995 from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC); Ph. D. in Biophysics from USTC in 2000, in a joint program of USTC and Fudan University from 1997 to 2000. Post-doctoral fellow at Picower Institute of Learning and Memory and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in MIT from 2000 to 2009; Professor in the School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, since 2009. His main research interests: Combining two photon laser imaging, intrinsic signal optical imaging and traditional electrophysiological recording, we enable online evaluation of a broad range of brain function and its dynamic micro-structures in vivo (from functional columns to single synapse), and investigate the information process in the visual pathway, and new roles of glia cells (which is greater in number than neurons, and is thought to be “silent” cells in brain), to unravel the interaction mechanisms of neurons and glia cells in network computation.

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Last updated: December 5, 2013