Social defeat stress causes selective attenuation of neuronal activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex

Reimi Abe, Sakura Okada, Ryota Nakayama, Yuji Ikegaya, Takuya Sasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) plays key roles in higher cognitive abilities, including mental representations and the regulation of emotion. Previous studies have reported that vmPFC activity is altered in depressed human patients, highlighting this subregion as a major site of dysfunction in neuropsychiatric diseases. To examine how neuronal activity at spike levels in the vmPFC is altered by social defeat stress, we performed electrophysiological multiunit recordings along the dorsoventral axis of the mPFC of freely moving mice. Chronic social defeat stress-susceptible mice showing an impairment in social interaction exhibited significant reductions in the overall spike frequencies of neurons in the vmPFC, but not in the dorsal mPFC. Analysis of local field potentials revealed that the vmPFC generated spatially constrained 20–40 Hz events lasting hundreds of milliseconds, with an average event frequency of 0.05 Hz; during these events, a subset of neurons were transiently inhibited. The frequency of 20–40 Hz events in the vmPFC was reduced in defeated stress-susceptible animals, and this decrease was reversed by systemic ketamine administration. The novel neurophysiological correlates of stress-induced changes in the vmPFC advance the understanding of the neural basis of stress-induced dysregulation of social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9447
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1


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