In rodents, subcortical nuclei have been showed as important areas in reproductive and social behaviors. Our group has focused on mapping brain areas involved in aggressive and defensive behaviors in animals exposed to the resident-intruder paradigm. Circuits encompassing amygdalar, hypothalamic and brain stem sites have been outlined as involved in the mediation of aggressive and defensive behaviors in male rodents. Curiously, both aggression and social defense are seemingly regulated by the same circuit, however, it remains to be determined to what extent diverse cell population in this circuit mediates distinct class of responses. To address this issue, first we will identify, in the same animal, neurons specifically activated by aggression and/or social defense using a double reaction with Fos imunofluorescence and c-fos in situ hybridization to check which cell populations are particularly activated in each behavior. In the sequence, using farmacogenetic inactivation, we will apply the CANE method to inactivate neurons specifically mobilized in either aggression or social defeat, and examine the behavioral outcome during the social agonistic encounter. Next, combining the CANE method and tract tracing using sinaptobrevin B virus, we will examine the pattern of projection of the neural population most effective in influencing either aggression or social defense. These new strategies should be useful to identify and to handle distinct cell population involved in different kind of behaviors, and, in this study, we should be able to gain critical information in the circuits involved in aggression and social defense.
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