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Cortico-cortical transfer of socially derived information gates emotion recognition


Authors: Daniel Dautan, Anna Monai, Federica Maltese, Xiao Chang, Cinzia Molent, Daniele Mauro, Alberto Galbusera, Dania Vecchia, Federica Antonelli, Arianna Benedetti, Filippo Drago, Gian Marco Leggio, Marco Pagani, Tommaso Fellin, Alessandro Gozzi, Gunter Schumann, Francesca Managò, Francesco Papaleo
Publication: Nature Neuroscience
Date: May 20, 2024
Link to article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-024-01647-x


Emotion recognition and the resulting responses are important for survival and social functioning. However, how socially derived information is processed for reliable emotion recognition is incompletely understood. Here, we reveal an evolutionarily conserved long-range inhibitory/excitatory brain network mediating these socio-cognitive processes. Anatomical tracing in mice revealed the existence of a subpopulation of somatostatin (SOM) GABAergic neurons projecting from the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) to the retrosplenial cortex (RSC). Through optogenetic manipulations and Ca2+ imaging fiber photometry in mice and functional imaging in humans, we demonstrate the specific participation of these long-range SOM projections from the mPFC to the RSC, and an excitatory feedback loop from the RSC to the mPFC, in emotion recognition. Notably, we show that mPFC-to-RSC SOM projections are dysfunctional in mouse models relevant to psychiatric vulnerability and can be targeted to rescue emotion recognition deficits in these mice. Our findings demonstrate a cortico-cortical circuit underlying emotion recognition.

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