Synergistic and regulatory effects of orbitofrontal cortex on amygdala-dependent appetitive behavior

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Dec:1121:297-319. doi: 10.1196/annals.1401.019. Epub 2007 Aug 14.


This paper will review two avenues of our research in marmosets that have focused on the role of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in amygdala-dependent appetitive behavior. The first demonstrates the important contribution of both the OFC and the amygdala to conditioned reinforcement (CRF). The second reveals the regulatory effects of the OFC on amygdala-dependent autonomic and behavioral arousal in appetitive conditioning. The process of CRF is one way in which an environmental cue can guide emotional behavior. As a consequence of its previous relationship with reward, a cue can take on affective value and reinforce behavior. Lesion studies in marmosets are described that show that CRF is dependent upon both the amygdala and OFC. The synergistic interactions between these structures that have been shown to underlie other aspects of reward processing are then considered with respect to CRF. The results are contrasted with those that show the importance of the OFC in suppressing positive affective responses elicited by the amygdala in response to a conditioned stimulus (CS). Specifically, it will be shown that the OFC is involved in the rapid suppression of conditioned autonomic arousal upon CS withdrawal and in the co-ordination of conditioned autonomic and behavioral responses when adapting to changing reward contingencies. It will be argued that, overall, the OFC plays a critical role in the context-dependent regulation of positive affective responding governed by external cues, in keeping with a role in executive control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Reward