Periaqueductal Grey Stimulation Induced Panic-Like Behaviour Is Accompanied by Deactivation of the Deep Cerebellar Nuclei

Veronique M. P. Moers-Hornikx*, Johan S. H. Vles, Lee Wei Lim, Mustafa Ayyildiz, Suleyman Kaplan, Antonio W. D. Gavilanes, Govert Hoogland, Harry W. M. Steinbusch, Yasin Temel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Web of Science)


Until recently, the cerebellum was primarily considered to be a structure involved in motor behaviour. New anatomical and clinical evidence has shown that the cerebellum is also involved in higher cognitive functions and non-motor behavioural changes. Functional imaging in patients with anxiety disorders and in cholecystokinin tetrapeptide-induced panic-attacks shows activation changes in the cerebellum. Deep brain stimulation of the dorsolateral periaqueductal grey (dlPAG) and the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) in rats has been shown to induce escape behaviour, which mimics a panic attack in humans. We used this animal model to study the neuronal activation in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCbN) using c-Fos immunohistochemistry. c-Fos expression in the DCbN decreased significantly after inducing escape behaviour by stimulation of the dlPAG and the VMH, indicating that the DCbN were deactivated. This study demonstrates that the DCbN are directly or indirectly involved in panic attacks. We suggest that the cerebellum plays a role in the selection of relevant information, and that deactivation of the cerebellar nuclei is required to allow inappropriate behaviour to occur, such as panic attacks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-69
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Cerebellum
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Periaqueductal grey
  • Ventromedial hypothalamus
  • Escape behaviour

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