Re-valuing the amygdala

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2010 Apr;20(2):221-30. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.02.007. Epub 2010 Mar 17.


Recent advances indicate that the amygdala represents valence: a general appetitive/aversive affective characteristic that bears similarity to the neuroeconomic concept of value. Neurophysiological studies show that individual amygdala neurons respond differentially to a range of stimuli with positive or negative affective significance. Meanwhile, increasingly specific lesion/inactivation studies reveal that the amygdala is necessary for processes--for example, fear extinction and reinforcer devaluation--that involve updating representations of value. Furthermore, recent neuroimaging studies suggest that the human amygdala mediates performance on many reward-based decision-making tasks. The encoding of affective significance by the amygdala might be best described as a representation of state value-a representation that is useful for coordinating physiological, behavioral, and cognitive responses in an affective/emotional context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology*
  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Motivation
  • Reward