Basolateral amygdala rapid glutamate release encodes an outcome-specific representation vital for reward-predictive cues to selectively invigorate reward-seeking actions

Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 27:5:12511. doi: 10.1038/srep12511.


Environmental stimuli have the ability to generate specific representations of the rewards they predict and in so doing alter the selection and performance of reward-seeking actions. The basolateral amygdala participates in this process, but precisely how is unknown. To rectify this, we monitored, in near-real time, basolateral amygdala glutamate concentration changes during a test of the ability of reward-predictive cues to influence reward-seeking actions (Pavlovian-instrumental transfer). Glutamate concentration was found to be transiently elevated around instrumental reward seeking. During the Pavlovian-instrumental transfer test these glutamate transients were time-locked to and correlated with only those actions invigorated by outcome-specific motivational information provided by the reward-predictive stimulus (i.e., actions earning the same specific outcome as predicted by the presented CS). In addition, basolateral amygdala AMPA, but not NMDA glutamate receptor inactivation abolished the selective excitatory influence of reward-predictive cues over reward seeking. These data support [corrected] the hypothesis that transient glutamate release in the BLA can encode the outcome-specific motivational information provided by reward-predictive stimuli.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reward*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Glutamic Acid