ERIC Number: EJ1051630
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Feb
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
The Role of the Basolateral Amygdala in Punishment
Dit-Bressel, Philip Jean-Richard; McNally, Gavan P.
Learning & Memory, v22 n2 p128-137 Feb 2015
Aversive stimuli not only support fear conditioning to their environmental antecedents, they also punish behaviors that cause their occurrence. The amygdala, especially the basolateral nucleus (BLA), has been critically implicated in Pavlovian fear learning but its role in punishment remains poorly understood. Here, we used a within-subjects punishment task to assess the role of the BLA in the acquisition and expression of punishment as well as aversive choice. Rats that pressed two individually presented levers for pellet rewards rapidly suppressed responding to one lever if it also caused footshock deliveries (punished lever) but continued pressing a second lever that did not cause footshock (unpunished lever). Infusions of GABA agonists baclofen and muscimol (BM) into the BLA significantly impaired the acquisition of this suppression. BLA inactivations using BM also reduced the expression of well-trained punishment. There was anatomical segregation within the BLA so that caudal, not rostral, BLA was implicated in punishment. However, when presented with punished and unpunished levers simultaneously in a choice test without deliveries of shock punisher, rats expressed a preference for unpunished over the punished lever and BLA inactivations had no effect on this preference. Taken together, these findings indicate that the BLA is important for both the acquisition and expression of punishment but not for aversive choice. This role appears to be linked to neurons in the caudal BLA, rather than rostral BLA, although the circuitry that contributes to this functional segregation is currently unknown, and is most parsimoniously interpreted as a role for caudal BLA in determining the aversive value of the shock punisher.
Descriptors: Role, Brain Hemisphere Functions, Punishment, Rewards, Fear, Task Analysis, Responses, Preferences
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A