Dealing with aversion: Investigation of the neural substrates for fear and anxiety

Li , Zhuoliang. Dealing with aversion: Investigation of the neural substrates for fear and anxiety. 2021, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.


Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/84694/

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The world is a complex and dynamic system, filled with many threats, rewards, and associated cues. To ensure survival, we must deal with incoming threats and cues predictive of threats. Defensive behaviors such as fear and anxiety guide our response to actual and ambiguous threats, respectively. Given their importance to survival, understanding the neural substrates underlying fear and anxiety is paramount but still not complete. With a circuit neuroscience approach, works in my thesis provide evidence that understudied subcortical brain regions such as the lateral Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) and the Zona Incerta (ZI) contribute to the encoding and modulation of fear and/or anxiety. In the first study, I showed that the lateral VTA gabaergic and glutamatergic neurons encode learned fear. Furthermore, I show that the direct and indirect projections of these lateral VTA subpopulations to the cholinergic interneurons of the dorsal striatum differentially modulate associative fear learning. In my second study, I investigated the ZI and showed that ZI neurons encode cues that contribute to fear learning as well as fear learning itself. In the third and final study, I focused on anxiety and showed that the ZI encode anxiety-related information and actively influence anxiety-like behaviors. Overall, my work advanced our understanding of the neural substrates underlying fear and anxiety.
Advisors:Tan, Kelly and Doetsch, Fiona and Mameli, Manuel
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Biozentrum > Former Organization Units Biozentrum > Physiopathology of basal ganglia neuronal subcircuits (Tan)
UniBasel Contributors:Tan, Kelly and Doetsch, Fiona
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:14411
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:241
Identification Number:
  • urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-bau-diss144116
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:29 Oct 2021 04:30
Deposited On:28 Oct 2021 10:28

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