The current view of instrumental conditioning indicates that performance in the early stage of training is maintained by a representation of the outcome, as indexed by its sensitivity to changes in the value of the reward. In the present study, the authors tested the effects of a disconnection of the prelimbic cortex (PL) and the basolateral nucleus of the amygdale (BLA), using an asymmetric lesion procedure, to determine whether these structures interact sequentially as part of a corticolimbic system. In marked contrast to the effects of bilateral lesions of the PL or the BLA, which both altered rats' sensitivity to outcome devaluation, the disconnection of these 2 brain areas was without an effect on outcome devaluation. These results demonstrate that the PL and the BLA mediate different aspects of outcome representation in goal-directed responding.
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