• Periaqueductal efferents to dopamine and GABA neurons of the VTA

      Ntamati, N.R.; Creed, M.; Achargui, R. (Public Library of Science, 2018)
      Neurons in the periaqueductal gray (PAG) modulate threat responses and nociception. Activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) on the other hand can cause reinforcement and aversion. While in many situations these behaviors are related, the anatomical substrate of a crosstalk between the PAG and VTA remains poorly understood. Here we describe the anatomical and electrophysiological organization of the VTA-projecting PAG neurons. Using rabies-based, cell type-specific retrograde tracing, we observed that PAG to VTA projection neurons are evenly distributed along the rostro-caudal axis of the PAG, but concentrated in its posterior and ventrolateral segments. Optogenetic projection targeting demonstrated that the PAG-to-VTA pathway is predominantly excitatory and targets similar proportions of Ih-expressing VTA DA and GABA neurons. Taken together, these results set the framework for functional analysis of the interplay between PAG and VTA in the regulation of reward and aversion. Copyright 2018 Ntamati et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.