Stay Active to Cope with Fear: A Cortico-Intrathalamic Pathway for Conditioned Flight Behavior
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When facing fear-provoking situations, animals and humans alternate between active and passive coping responses . Active coping such as flight or escape is thought to occur when animals perceive the situation to be controllable. In contrast, passive coping such as immobility or freezing is evoked if the situation is perceived to be inescapable. Previous studies have focused predominantly on the neural mechanisms underlying passive fear behaviors (or freezing) with very few published reports on the neural control of active fear responses (or flight). So, what are the neural mechanisms that regulate active fear responses and that permit flexible switching between passive and active coping strategies? A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience entitled “A novel cortico-intrathalamic circuit for flight behavior”, from Dr. Xiao-Ming Li’s lab at Zhejiang University, sheds new light on these important questions .
This highlight was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871066), the National Basic Research Development Program (973 Program), Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2015CB559201), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB32000000), and in part by the open funds of the State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology.