Hypothalamic, midbrain and bulbar areas involved in the defense reaction in rabbits

Carrie G. Markgraf, Ray W. Winters, David R. Liskowsky, Philip M. McCabe, Edward J. Green, Neil Schneiderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The present study mapped neuroanatomical sites in the hypothalamus and periaqueductal gray (PAG) of the rabbit which, when stimulated electrically, evoked the cardiorespiratory components of the defense reaction (CRDR). This included increases in heart rate, blood pressure, hindlimb blood flow and respiration rate. All of the components of the CRDR were elicited by electrical stimulation of the posterior hypothalamus, at sites dorsal and medial to the fornix. Although there were regions throughout the PAG in which electrical stimulation elicited concomitant increases in blood pressure, hindlimb blood flow and respiration rate, only stimulation of the dorsal PAG evoked tachycardia. Injection of horseradish peroxidase into the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) led to heavy retrograde and anterograde labeling in the region of the hypothalamus that yielded the CRDR when stimulated electrically. Heavy labeling was also observed in the dorsal and ventral PAG. The results of this study provide evidence that the posterior hypothalamus and the dorsal PAG are nodal structures in the mediation of the CRDR and that cells in posterior hypothalamus, dorsal PAG and ventral PAG make monosynaptic connections with the RVLM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-500
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology AND Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1991


  • Defense reaction
  • Hypothalamus
  • Periaqueductal gray
  • Rostral ventrolateral medulla

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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