CRHPVN neurons decode stress controllability and modify defensive behaviour
Professor, Physiology & Pharmacology
Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary
The perception of control during stressful events has lasting behavioural consequences that are apparent even in situations that are distinct from the stress context. How the brain links prior stressful experience to subsequent behaviours remains poorly understood. Here we show that hypothalamic CRH neuron activity in response to a cue prior to a potential threat, predicts the innate defensive behaviour to that threat. This cue-induced activity can be modified by prior instrumental training. Specifically, exposure to stress with high outcome control increases cue-induced CRHactivity while stress with no outcome control decreases this activity. These specific changes in cue-induced activity are enduring and predictive of subsequent defensive behaviours in unrelated tasks. Collectively, our observations demonstrate that CRH decode stress controllability and contribute to shifts between active and passive innate defensive strategies.