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The rostroventral part of the thalamic reticular nucleus modulates fear extinction

Lee, JH;Latchoumane, CV;Park, J;Kim, J;Jeong, J;Lee, KH;Shin, HS;

The thalamus has been implicated in fear extinction, yet the role of the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) in this process remains unclear. Here, in mice, we show that the rostroventral part of the TRN (TRNrv) is critically involved in the extinction of tone-dependent fear memory. Optogenetic excitation of TRNrv neurons during extinction learning dramatically facilitated, whereas the inhibition disrupted, the fear extinction. Single unit recordings demonstrated that TRNrv neurons selectively respond to conditioned stimuli but not to neutral stimuli. TRNrv neurons suppressed the spiking activity of the medial part of the dorsal midline thalamus (dMTm), and a blockade of this inhibitory pathway disrupted fear extinction. Finally, we found that the suppression of dMTm projections to the central amygdala promotes fear extinction, and TRNrv neurons have direct connections to this pathway. Our results uncover a previously unknown function of the TRN and delineate the neural circuit for thalamic control of fear memory.