The basolateral amygdala in reward learning and addiction

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Oct:57:271-83. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.08.017. Epub 2015 Sep 2.


Sophisticated behavioral paradigms partnered with the emergence of increasingly selective techniques to target the basolateral amygdala (BLA) have resulted in an enhanced understanding of the role of this nucleus in learning and using reward information. Due to the wide variety of behavioral approaches many questions remain on the circumscribed role of BLA in appetitive behavior. In this review, we integrate conclusions of BLA function in reward-related behavior using traditional interference techniques (lesion, pharmacological inactivation) with those using newer methodological approaches in experimental animals that allow in vivo manipulation of cell type-specific populations and neural recordings. Secondly, from a review of appetitive behavioral tasks in rodents and monkeys and recent computational models of reward procurement, we derive evidence for BLA as a neural integrator of reward value, history, and cost parameters. Taken together, BLA codes specific and temporally dynamic outcome representations in a distributed network to orchestrate adaptive responses. We provide evidence that experiences with opiates and psychostimulants alter these outcome representations in BLA, resulting in long-term modified action.

Keywords: Amphetamine; Basolateral amygdala; Discounting; Opiate; Orbitofrontal cortex; Outcome devaluation; Reversal learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Basolateral Nuclear Complex / drug effects
  • Basolateral Nuclear Complex / physiology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Reward*