Amygdala circuitry in attentional and representational processes

Trends Cogn Sci. 1999 Feb;3(2):65-73. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(98)01271-6.


The amygdala has long been implicated in the display of emotional behavior and emotional information processing, especially in the context of aversive events. In this review, we discuss recent evidence that links the amygdala to several aspects of food-motivated associative learning, including functions often characterized as attention, reinforcement and representation. Each of these functions depends on the operation of separate amygdalar subsystems, through their connections with other brain systems. Notably, very different processing systems seem to be mediated by the central nucleus and basolateral amygdala, subregions of the amygdala that differ in their anatomy and in their connectivity. The basolateral amygdala is involved in the acquisition and representation of reinforcement value, apparently through its connections with ventral striatal dopamine systems and with the orbitofrontal cortex. The dentral nucleus, however, contributes heavily to attentional function in conditioning, by way of its influence on basal forebrain cholinergic systems and on the dorsolateral striatum.