Italian scientists have discovered a neural connection between the prefrontal cortex and the brain stem that blocks instinctive behavior in mice. More information about the study can be found in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Instincts such as fear or sexual desire are essential for human survival. But in modern life, being in society, people are forced to control their natural instincts, blocking them when necessary.
Previous research has shown that the region of the brain responsible for human instincts is the brain stem. It was also believed that the “processing” of natural instincts (regulation of social behavior) occurs in the prefrontal cortex. Now scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Italy have literally discovered this connection between the prefrontal cortex and a group of midbrain neurons (periaquatic gray matter).
In the course of their work, the researchers found that in a mouse that was repeatedly infringed by another mouse, the connection between the brain stem and the prefrontal cortex weakened, which in a certain way affected the animal’s behavior: the mouse began to show its fear to a greater extent. Then the scientists blocked the connection between these areas of the brain in a mouse that was not attacked by other mice. It turned out that blocking this neural connection changed the behavior of the “brave” mouse, and she began to show her fear.
Scientists believe that human social behavior, like in mice, is also controlled by this neural connection. According to the researchers, the results of their work will help in the treatment of schizophrenia, depression and other mental disorders associated with the work of the prefrontal cortex of the brain.