Julien Brechbühl, Aurélie de Vallière, Dean Wood, Monique Nenniger Tosato & Marie-Christine Broillet
Just how threatening scents are treated by mice in the wild to adapt their fundamental behaviors remains elusive for the moment. We have provided evidence and new biological insights on how mice exploit environmental stress to optimize and control their feeding behavior. In this study, we used genetically modified, surgically treated and sham-operated mice in a series of imaging and integrated behavioral assays. We functionally determined that the Grueneberg ganglion (GG) olfactory subsystem controls innate and acquired food preferences when mice smell an impending danger. We then found that the threat-associated to an unfamiliar food was deciphered by the GG and that its activation increased the corticosterone level in the blood. Therefore, preference for a safe food was enhanced. We finally demonstrated that the activation of the GG circuitry will also reset the food preference for mice, which in turn helps the decision-making process.