Reward magnitude coding in primate amygdala neurons

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Dec;104(6):3424-32. doi: 10.1152/jn.00540.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 22.


Animals assess the values of rewards to learn and choose the best possible outcomes. We studied how single neurons in the primate amygdala coded reward magnitude, an important variable determining the value of rewards. A single, Pavlovian-conditioned visual stimulus predicted fruit juice to be delivered with one of three equiprobable volumes (P = 1/3). A population of amygdala neurons showed increased activity after reward delivery, and almost one half of these responses covaried with reward magnitude in a monotonically increasing or decreasing fashion. A subset of the reward responding neurons were tested with two different probability distributions of reward magnitude; the reward responses in almost one half of them adapted to the predicted distribution and thus showed reference-dependent coding. These data suggest parametric reward value coding in the amygdala as a characteristic component of its function in reinforcement learning and economic decision making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reward*