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Previous studies have shown that cooperation of neuronal activity in the amygdala and hippocampus is crucial for emotional memory formation. Synchronization of theta frequency oscillations in the amygdala and hippocampus plays a key role in this coordination. Research suggests that GABAergic neurons are central in controlling theta frequency oscillations.

Research from Bienvenu et al. at Oxford’s Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit, in conjunction with researchers from Innsbruck Medical University, used anatomical identification and in vivo recordings in rats to characterize GABAergic interneuron types in the basolateral amygdala, determining the role each plays in their cell type specific network activities. Four types of GABAergic cells were characterized in the rat basolatera amygdala by Bienvenu et al; axo-axonic cells, parvalbumin-expressing basket cells, calbindin-positive dendrite targeting cells, and “AStria (amygdala-striatum transitional area)-projecting” cells.

The calbindin-positive cells inhibit basolateral amygdala cells in direct correlation to theta oscillation phases, whilst parvalbumin-expressing basket cells were not modulated in line with these oscillations, and axo-axonic neurons were seen to fire selectively in response to prominent sensory stimuli. The study supports the suggestion that interneurons not only have a crucial role in the regulation of timing in the basolateral amygdala, acting in a cell-type-specific manner, but that they are also important in integrating sensory information.

To read the full paper, please click here.