Stunning science: Neurons that control defence

By Irene Ayuso Jimeno

This video shows neurons (in green) that control instinctive behaviours such as defence. They are located in the periaqueductal grey or PAG: an area in the midbrain with an important role in behavioural responses to stressors like threats or pain.

Credit: Irene Ayuso Jimeno (Gross group) / EMBL

Colour summary: Green: neurons in the periaqueductal gray (PAG). Yellow and red: axons coming in from the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Blue: DNA in the cell nuclei

The tiny yellow and red dots show projections of other neurons –axons – coming in from the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC): a brain area involved in memory and decision making. Blue represents DNA in the neurons’ nuclei. Basically, the video guides you through a stack of brain tissue planes, acquired in a confocal microscope.

This video was made by Irene Ayuso Jimeno, a PhD student in the Gross group, who aims to understand – from the neural circuits point of view – how instinctive behaviours such as defence are modulated by other behaviours or mental states. The Gross group studies the neural circuits underlying instinctive behaviour in mice. Read more about their work:


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