Host institution: École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France

ESR1 – Cerebellar involvement in fear memory

The goal of this project is to study the involvement of the cerebello – periaqueductal grey (PAG) pathway and cerebello – amygdala pathway in fear memory using a combination of neuroanatomy, behaviour, chemogenetic approaches, and in vivo electrophysiology in mice. Through neuroanatomical tracing we have preliminary data in rat (Bristol) and mouse (Paris) showing fibres from the cerebellar fastigial nucleus projecting to the ventrolateral periaqueductal grey (vlPAG), which is known to be important for fear responses and prediction error and to amygdala via the parafascicular (PF) thalamus.

We also have preliminary data indicating a modulation on the strength of the fear memories in extinction by the fastigial-vlPAG pathway using a viral retrograde CAV-Cre – and cre-dependent DREADDs approach. One of the objectives of this project is to describe the specific cell types involved in this modulation. We will then perform electrophysiological recording in the cerebellum, vlPAG, PF and amygdala to evaluate the neuronal dynamics during modulation of cerebellar circuits in fear memory. The feasibility of this project is very high because all techniques are already running in the respective labs. The results will be compared and contrasted with those obtained in ESRs 2-7. Collaboration with Bristol (ESR5) on multi brain site electrophysiological recording in rodents.

These experiments shall determine specific cellular types in limbic structures modulated by the cerebellum during fear memory and their neuronal dynamics. We will also identify the stages of emotional conditioning modulated by cerebellum.

Planned secondments: Bristol, months 13 – 15, purpose: to compare electrophysiological results in rats and mice; Blackrock microsystems, month 25, purpose: training in latest multi-channel recording to investigate neural circuit dynamics.