GABAA-mediated inhibition of basolateral amygdala blocks reward devaluation in macaques

J Neurosci. 2005 May 4;25(18):4577-86. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2257-04.2005.


Amygdala ablation disrupts reinforcer "devaluation" in monkeys (Malkova et al., 1997). Here, we tested the hypothesis that transient inactivation of amygdala by the GABA(A) agonist muscimol (MUS), specifically during the period of reward satiation, would have a similar effect. Six pigtail macaques were trained on a visual object discrimination task in which 60 objects were associated with one of two specific food rewards. Subsequently, we evaluated the selective satiation-induced change (devaluation) in object preference in probe sessions. We also examined the effect of the amygdala inactivation during the probe sessions to determine whether the inactivation limited to the testing period (and not during the satiation period) is sufficient to impair the expression of reinforcer devaluation. MUS infusions were aimed at basolateral amygdala (BLA) in a pseudorandomized design; each monkey received MUS or saline either before or after selective satiation with each of the two food rewards (six infusions total). Under the control (saline) condition, the monkeys significantly shifted their preference from objects representing the sated food rewards to those representing the nonsated rewards (30% change). When BLA was inactivated during selective satiation (i.e., MUS infused before satiation), this devaluation effect was blocked. In contrast, MUS infusion after satiation, so that it was present just during the testing period, did not impair the shift in object preference (27% change). Thus, BLA is necessary for the appropriate registration of the change in the reinforcer value but not for the subsequent expression of the devaluation involving its transfer to secondary reinforcers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Eating / physiology
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Infusion Pumps
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Satiation / drug effects
  • Satiation / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • GABA Agonists
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Muscimol