In mammals, the central extended amygdala shows a highly complex organization, and is essential for animal survival due to its implication in fear responses. However, many aspects of its evolution are still unknown, and this structure is especially poorly understood in birds. The aim of this study was to define the central extended amygdala in chicken, by means of a battery of region-specific transcription factors (Pax6, Islet1, Nkx2.1) and phenotypic markers that characterize these different subdivisions in mammals. Our results allowed the identification of at least six distinct subdivisions in the lateral part of the avian central extended amygdala: (1) capsular central subdivision; (2) a group of intercalated-like cell patches; (3) oval central nucleus; (4) peri-intrapeduncular (peri-INP) island field; (5) perioval zone; and (6) a rostral part of the subpallial extended amygdala. In addition, we identified three subdivisions of the laterodorsal bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTLd) belonging to the medial region of the chicken central extended amygdala complex. Based on their genetic profile, cellular composition and apparent embryonic origin of the cells, we discuss the similarity of these different subdivisions of chicken with different parts of the mouse central amygdala and surrounding cell masses, including the intercalated amygdalar masses and the sublenticular part of the central extended amygdala. Most of the subdivisions include various subpopulations of cells that apparently originate in the dorsal striatal, ventral striatal, pallidal, and preoptic embryonic domains, reaching their final location by either radial or tangential migrations. Similarly to mammals, the central amygdala and BSTLd of chicken project to the hypothalamus, and include different neurons expressing proenkephalin, corticotropin-releasing factor, somatostatin or tyrosine hydroxylase, which may be involved in the control of different aspects of fear/anxiety-related behavior.
Vicario, A., Abellán, A., Desfilis, E., & Medina, L. (2014). Genetic identification of the central nucleus and other components of the central extended amygdala in chicken during development. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 8, 1–23. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnana.2014.00090