Project B02: Cortical mechanisms of adaptive fear extinction underlying stress resilience

Principal Investigators

Johannes Letzkus, Ph.D.

Max Planck Research Group Leader

Project Team

Our Research

B02 investigates whether extinction of fear of complex conditioned stimuli involves primary sensory cortices. It specifically focuses on dynamic intra-cortical excitability regulation during extinction via inhibitory interneurons in the auditory cortex. Having identified the relevant interneuron types, B02 will go on to perturb the identified elements of the micro-circuitry using optogenetics, to demonstrate their causal role in extinction. Finally, B02 will investigate the sensitivity of these mechanisms to stressors, and the possibility to manipulate these mechanisms to protect animals against stressor-induced extinction deficits.


Dalmay T, Abs E, Poorthuis RB, Hartung J, Pu DL, Onasch S, Lozano YR,  Signoret-Genest J, Tovote P, Gjorgjieva J, Letzkus JJ (2019) A critical  role for neocortical rrocessing of threat memory. Neuron 104(6): 1180-1194.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.09.025.

>> Link to PubMed

Poorthuis RB, Muhammad K, Wang M, Verhoog MB, Junek S, Wrana A, Mansvelder HD, Letzkus JJ (2018) Rapid neuromodulation of layer 1 interneurons in human neocortex. Cell Reports 23(4):951–958.

>> Link to PubMed