t Enhanced Amygdala Kindling after Electrical Stimulation of the Ventral Tegmental Area: Implications for Fear and Anxiety

t D. L. Gelowitz, L. Kokkinidis
1999 Journal of Neuroscience  
Electrical kindling refers to the seizure-generating properties of brain stimulation. In addition to producing epilepsy, the reorganization of forebrain neurocircuitry associated with kindling contributes to psychiatric disturbances involving fear and anxiety. The amygdala is a limbic structure that kindles readily and regulates the complex neurocircuitry underlying emotional responding. Dopamine-containing ventral tegmental area (VTA) neurons, known to be activated by threatening environmental
more » ... ening environmental stimuli, are an important component of the amygdala-based fear network. Using amygdala kindling as an indicator of sensitization development, we report here that repeated low-current, high-frequency stimulation of the VTA provoked afterdischarge in the central amygdala and enhanced kindling rate. By establishing a fundamental link between VTA activation and neural excitability in the central amygdala, the present results are consistent with the possibility of a common process underlying epileptogenisis and the fear motivational consequences of amygdala and VTA kindling. Considering the established role of the VTA and the amygdala in emotional responding, such a sensitization mechanism might mediate exaggerated fearfulness.
doi:10.1523/jneurosci.19-22-j0004.1999 pmid:10559431 fatcat:fbn5grg7tfhizkx5tkvdg3yuru