Chou, M.Y., Amo, R., Kinoshita, M., Cherng, B.W., Shimazaki, H., Agetsuma, M., Shiraki, T., Aoki, T., Takahoko, M., Yamazaki, M., Higashijima, S., Okamoto, H. (2016) Social conflict resolution regulated by two dorsal habenular subregions in zebrafish. Science (New York, N.Y.). 352:87-90.
When animals encounter conflict they initiate and escalate aggression to establish and maintain a social hierarchy. The neural mechanisms by which animals resolve fighting behaviors to determine such social hierarchies remain unknown. We identified two subregions of the dorsal habenula (dHb) in zebrafish that antagonistically regulate the outcome of conflict. The losing experience reduced neural transmission in the lateral subregion of dHb (dHbL)-dorsal/intermediate interpeduncular nucleus (d/iIPN) circuit. Silencing of the dHbL or medial subregion of dHb (dHbM) caused a stronger predisposition to lose or win a fight, respectively. These results demonstrate that the dHbL and dHbM comprise a dual control system for conflict resolution of social aggression.