Aggression in BALB/cJ mice is differentially predicted by the volumes of anterior and midcingulate cortex
Number of pages
SourceBrain Structure and Function, 224, 3, (2019), pp. 1009-1019
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC SMN
PI Group Memory and Emotion
Brain Structure and Function
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; All institutes and research themes of the Radboud University Medical Center; Neuroinformatics; Radboudumc 7: Neurodevelopmental disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and midcingulate cortex (MCC) have been implicated in the regulation of aggressive behaviour. For instance, patients with conduct disorder (CD) show increased levels of aggression accompanied by changes in ACC and MCC volume. However, accounts of ACC/MCC changes in CD patients have been conflicting, likely due to the heterogeneity of the studied populations. Here, we address these discrepancies by studying volumetric changes of ACC/MCC in the BALB/cJ mouse, a model of aggression, compared to an age- and gender-matched control group of BALB/cByJ mice. We quantified aggression in BALB/cJ and BALB/cByJ mice using the resident–intruder test, and related this to volumetric measures of ACC/MCC based on Nissl-stained coronal brain slices of the same animals. We demonstrate that BALB/cJ behave consistently more aggressively (shorter attack latencies, more frequent attacks, anti-social biting) than the control group, while at the same time showing an increased volume of ACC and a decreased volume of MCC. Differences in ACC and MCC volume jointly predicted a high amount of variance in aggressive behaviour, while regression with only one predictor had a poor fit. This suggests that, beyond their individual contributions, the relationship between ACC and MCC plays an important role in regulating aggressive behaviour. Finally, we show the importance of switching from the classical rodent anatomical definition of ACC as cingulate area 2 and 1 to a definition that includes the MCC and is directly homologous to higher mammalian species: clear behaviour-related differences in ACC/MCC anatomy were only observed using the homologous definition.
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