Although it has long been hypothesized that the nucleus accumbens (NAc) acts as an interface between limbic and motor regions, direct evidence for this modulatory role on behavior is lacking. Using a disconnection procedure in rats, we found that basolateral amygdala (BLA) input to the core and medial shell of the NAc separately mediate two distinct incentive processes controlling the performance of goal-directed instrumental actions, respectively: (i) the sensitivity of instrumental responding to changes in the experienced value of the goal or outcome, produced by specific satiety-induced outcome devaluation; and (ii) the effect of reward-related cues on action selection, observed in outcome-specific Pavlovian-instrumental transfer. These results reveal, therefore, that dissociable neural circuits involving BLA inputs to the NAc core and medial shell mediate distinct components of the incentive motivational processes controlling choice and decision-making in instrumental conditioning.
© 2010 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience © 2010 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.