On Feb. 1, 2018, a research team led by Professor Minmin Luo from the School of Life Sciences and IDG/McGovern Institute at Tsinghua University published a research article entitled 'Hypothalamic Circuits for Predation and Evasion' in Neuron.
The interactions between predator and prey represent some of the most dramatic events in nature and constitute a matter of life and death for both sides. The hypothalamus has been implicated in driving predation and evasion; however, the exact hypothalamic neural circuits underlying these behaviors remain poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that inhibitory and excitatory projections from the mouse lateral hypothalamus (LH) to the periaqueductal gray (PAG) in the midbrain drive, respectively, predation and evasion. LH GABA neurons were activated during predation. Optogenetically stimulating PAG-projecting LH GABA neurons drove strong predatory attack, and inhibiting these cells reversibly blocked predation. In contrast, LH glutamate neurons were activated during evasion. Stimulating PAG-projecting LH glutamate neurons drove evasion and inhibiting them impeded predictive evasion. Therefore, the seemingly opposite behaviors of predation and evasion are tightly regulated by two dissociable modular command systems within a single neural projection from the LH to the PAG.