Role of amygdala central nucleus in aversive learning produced by shock or by unexpected omission of food.
ABSTRACT Many psychological learning theories have noted commonalities between aversive states produced by presentation of negative reinforcers, such as electric shock, and the omission of expected positive reinforcers, such as food. Here, three groups of rats received training with one auditory cue paired with shock and another with the omission of expected food, a shock-paired cue and a food-omission control cue, or a food-omission cue and a shock control cue. Food-omission cues were established by contrast with food delivery; after extensive light-food pairings, the light was followed by the food-omission cue instead of food. Aversiveness of the food-omission cue was assessed with a conditioned punishment procedure, in which presentation of that cue was made contingent on performance of one previously trained instrumental response, whereas a second response had no consequences. We found that rats with lesions of amygdala central nucleus (CeA) showed impaired acquisition of freezing to the cue paired with shock and no evidence for acquisition of aversive properties by the cue that accompanied the omission of expected food. Furthermore, analyses of Arc and Homer1a mRNAs after rats were exposed to a two-epoch test procedure that allowed assessment of gene expression produced by two different test stimuli showed that both food-omission and shock-paired cues generated more neuronal activity in CeA than appropriate control cues. However, the number of neurons that were activated by both shock and food-omission cues was not significantly greater than expected by chance. Thus, under these test conditions, different subsets of CeA neurons represented these two aversive states.
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ABSTRACT: The central amygdala nucleus (CeA) plays a critical role in cognitive processes beyond fear conditioning. For example, intact CeA function is essential for enhancing attention to conditioned stimuli (CSs). Furthermore, this enhanced attention depends on the CeA's connections to the nigrostriatal system. In the current study, we examined the role of the CeA's connections to two midbrain dopamine regions, the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), in processing CS information when predictions of reward or nonreward were confirmed or disconfirmed. Initially, two different retrograde tracers were injected into the SNc and the VTA of rats, to label CeA cells. Different groups of rats then received a visual CS either paired or unpaired with food. Finally, Fos induction was assessed after a test session in which rats were exposed to the visual CS alone or paired with food. Colabeling of Fos and the retrograde tracer(s) showed that CeA neurons projecting to the SNc, but not to the VTA, were engaged in processing CS information when the training and testing conditions differed. These results suggest that the CeA-nigral pathway represents prediction error information during appetitive conditioning.Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) 01/2010; 17(10):531-8. · 4.08 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent studies suggest that there are multiple 'reward' or 'reward-like' systems that control food seeking; evidence points to two distinct learning processes and four modulatory processes that contribute to the performance of food-related instrumental actions. The learning processes subserve the acquisition of goal-directed and habitual actions and involve the dorsomedial and dorsolateral striatum, respectively. Access to food can function both to reinforce habits and as a reward or goal for actions. Encoding and retrieving the value of a goal appears to be mediated by distinct processes that, contrary to the somatic marker hypothesis, do not appear to depend on a common mechanism but on emotional and more abstract evaluative processes, respectively. The anticipation of reward on the basis of environmental events exerts a further modulatory influence on food seeking that can be dissociated from that of reward itself; earning a reward and anticipating a reward appear to be distinct processes and have been doubly dissociated at the level of the nucleus accumbens. Furthermore, the excitatory influence of reward-related cues can be both quite specific, based on the identity of the reward anticipated, or more general based on its motivational significance. The influence of these two processes on instrumental actions has also been doubly dissociated at the level of the amygdala. Although the complexity of food seeking provides a hurdle for the treatment of eating disorders, the suggestion that these apparently disparate determinants are functionally integrated within larger neural systems may provide novel approaches to these problems.Physiology & Behavior 01/2006; 86(5):717-30. · 3.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Freezing and suppression are measures of conditioned fear that correlate in unlesioned animals. Both the basolateral (BLA) and central (CeN) nuclei of the amygdala are required for conditioned freezing, though there can be recovery with overtraining. The neuroanatomical substrates of conditioned suppression are less clear, with evidence both for a specific requirement of the CeN and for disruption by BLA lesions. The present study investigated the impact of selective excitotoxic lesions of the BLA and CeN upon the acquisition and expression of conditioned fear, measured by freezing and both on-baseline and off-baseline conditioned suppression in the same rats. BLA and CeN lesions both abolished all measures of conditioned fear after 9 trials of fear conditioning. However, when conditioning was extended to 33 trials, whereas rats with combined lesions of both the BLA and CeN continued to show no conditioned fear responses, there was a pattern of recovery observed after selective lesions. There was a partial recovery of freezing with both lesions, and full recovery of conditioned suppression, except for off-baseline suppression in CeN lesioned rats. These results indicate that with few conditioning trials, both the BLA and CeN are required in a serial manner for conditioned fear responses, but that overtraining can mitigate such impairments, likely involving parallel pathways in and through the amygdala.Behavioural Brain Research 05/2005; 159(2):221-33. · 3.33 Impact Factor