Orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala encode expected outcomes during learning

Nat Neurosci. 1998 Jun;1(2):155-9. doi: 10.1038/407.


Reciprocal connections between the orbitofrontal cortex and the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala may provide a critical circuit for the learning that underlies goal-directed behavior. We examined neural activity in rat orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala during instrumental learning in an olfactory discrimination task. Neurons in both regions fired selectively during the anticipation of rewarding or aversive outcomes. This selective activity emerged early in training, before the rats had learned reliably to avoid the aversive outcome. The results support the concept that the basolateral amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex cooperate to encode information that may be used to guide goal-directed behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Frontal Lobe / cytology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reward
  • Smell / physiology