Fear and anxiety circuits in the brain: investigating the role of the extended amygdala circuitry in fear generalisation and anxiety thesis

Tuesday 16 April 2024, 12:30 pm
PhD student
D.C.E.M. van der Geugten
prof. dr. J.R. Homberg, prof. dr. J.H.L.M. van Bokhoven
dr. M.J.A.G. Henckens

Recognizing potential dangers is crucial for sound decision-making, but excessive fear can lead to anxiety disorders and an exaggerated level of anxiety, as seen in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety generalization. This thesis demonstrates that in mice susceptible to developing PTSD, the anxiety circuit in the brain, known as the amygdala-bed nucleus stria terminalis (BNST) circuit, functions differently than in resilient mice. Furthermore, the results indicate that influencing specific parts of this circuit can reduce the expression of anxiety, although it does not affect overall anxiety generalization. These findings underscore the significant role of the amygdala-BNST circuit in both the learning process and the expression of anxiety.

Dewi van der Geugten (1994) obtained her Research Master's degree in Cognitive Neurosciences in 2018. Shortly thereafter, she was awarded the Radboudumc Top Talent Grant to pursue her doctoral research at the Behavioural Neurogenetics lab within the Cognitive Neuroscience department of the Radboud university medical center.