Nature Neuroscience, 24 May, 2019， DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41593-019-0405-4
A subcortical excitatory circuit for sensory-triggered predatory hunting in mice
Congping Shang, Aixue Liu, Dapeng Li, Zhiyong Xie, Zijun Chen, Meizhu Huang, Yang Li, Yi Wang, Wei L. Shen & Peng Cao
Predatory hunting plays a fundamental role in animal survival. Little is known about the neural circuits that convert sensory cues into neural signals to drive this behavior. Here we identified an excitatory subcortical neural circuit from the superior colliculus to the zona incerta that triggers predatory hunting. The superior colliculus neurons that form this pathway integrate motion-related visual and vibrissal somatosensory cues of prey. During hunting, these neurons send out neural signals that are temporally correlated with predatory attacks, but not with feeding after prey capture. Synaptic inactivation of this pathway selectively blocks hunting for prey without impairing other sensory-triggered behaviors. These data reveal a subcortical neural circuit that is specifically engaged in translating sensory cues into neural signals to provoke predatory hunting.