Brain circuitry of positive vs negative memories discovered in mice
Washington, DC – Neuroscientists have discovered brain circuitry for encoding positive and negative learned associations in mice. After finding that two circuits showed opposite activity following fear and reward learning, the researchers proved that this divergent activity causes either avoidance or reward-driven behaviors. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, they used cutting-edge optical-genetic tools to pinpoint these mechanisms critical to survival, which are also implicated in mental illness.
The researchers pinpointed separate brain circuits for positive and negative associations in mouse brain by injecting retrograde fluorescent bead tracers (green, red) that migrated upstream through neuronal projections linking a reward center (NAc, nucleus accumbens) and a fear center (CeM, centromedial amygdala) to an emotional memory crossroads (BLA, basolateral amygdala). Source: Praneeth Namburi, Anna Beyeler, Ph.D., Kay M. Tye, Ph.D., MIT