Nencki Institute Seminar

Dear All

it is my pleasure to invite you to the next Nencki Institute Seminar on Thursday April 13th at 3pm in the CN hall. We will host dr Anna Beyeler, head of the Neural circuits of anxiety lab within the Neurocentre Magendie Institute, located at the Neurocampus of the University of Bordeaux, France. Dr Beyeler will give a lecture entitled Linking emotional valence and anxiety in an insula-amygdala circuit.



Responses of the insular cortex (IC) and amygdala to stimuli of positive and negative valence are altered in patients with anxiety disorders. However, neural coding of both anxiety and valence by IC neurons remains unknown. Using fiber photometry recordings in mice, we uncover a selective increase of activity in IC projection neurons of the anterior (aIC), but not posterior (pIC) section, when animals are exploring anxiogenic spaces, and this activity is proportional to the level of anxiety of mice. Neurons in aIC also respond to stimuli of positive and negative valence, and the strength of response to strong negative stimuli is proportional to mice levels of anxiety. Using ex vivo electrophysiology, we characterized the IC connection to the basolateral amygdala (BLA), and employed projection-specific optogenetics to reveal anxiogenic properties of aIC‑BLA neurons. Finally, we identified that aIC‑BLA neurons are activated in anxiogenic spaces, as well as in response to aversive stimuli, and that both activities are positively correlated. Altogether, we identified a common neurobiological substrate linking negative valence with anxiety-related information and behaviors, which provides a starting point to understand how alterations of these neural populations contribute to psychiatric disorders.


The seminar will be followed by a get together.

With best regards
Aleksandra Pękowska

Date of publication
7 April 2023
Date of event
Nencki Institute