Chemogenetics to identify the "specific contributions of individual areas and the circuit mechanisms through which they interact to modulate learning"
Infralimbic cortex is required for learning alternatives to prelimbic promoted associations through reciprocal connectivity
Using viral tracing and pharmacogenetic techniques, we show that prelimbic (PreL) and infralimbic cortex (IL) exhibit reciprocal PreL↔IL layer 5/6 connectivity. In set-shifting tasks and in fear/extinction learning, activity in PreL is required during new learning to apply previously learned associations, whereas activity in IL is required to learn associations alternative to previous ones. IL→PreL connectivity is specifically required during IL-dependent learning, whereas reciprocal PreL↔IL connectivity is required during a time window of 12–14 h after association learning, to set up the role of IL in subsequent learning. Our results define specific and opposing roles of PreL and IL to together flexibly support new learning, and provide circuit evidence that IL-mediated learning of alternative associations depends on direct reciprocal PreL↔IL connectivity.