Figure:This illustration describes how ACC-BLA circuit controls innate freezing response depending on its activity level
When animals encounter danger, they usually respond to the situation in one of two ways: to freeze or to flee. How do they make this quick decision in a life or death moment? According to KAIST neuroscientists, there are two types of fear: learned versus innate. The latter is known to be induced without any prior experience and is thus naturally encoded in the brain. A research team under Professor Jin-Hee Han in the Department of Biological Sciences identified the brain circuit responsible for regulating the innate fear response.
The study, which appeared in the July 24 issue of Nature Communications represents a significant step toward understanding how the neural circuits in the prefrontal cortex create behavioral responses to external threats. This also represents a new paradigm in therapeutic development for fear-related mental disorders. Responses of freezing or fleeing when facing external threats reflect behavioral and physiological changes in an instinctive move to adapt to the new environment for survival.