Updating temporal expectancy of an aversive event engages striatal plasticity under amygdala control

Nat Commun. 2017 Jan 9:8:13920. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13920.


Pavlovian aversive conditioning requires learning of the association between a conditioned stimulus (CS) and an unconditioned, aversive stimulus (US) but also involves encoding the time interval between the two stimuli. The neurobiological bases of this time interval learning are unknown. Here, we show that in rats, the dorsal striatum and basal amygdala belong to a common functional network underlying temporal expectancy and learning of a CS-US interval. Importantly, changes in coherence between striatum and amygdala local field potentials (LFPs) were found to couple these structures during interval estimation within the lower range of the theta rhythm (3-6 Hz). Strikingly, we also show that a change to the CS-US time interval results in long-term changes in cortico-striatal synaptic efficacy under the control of the amygdala. Collectively, this study reveals physiological correlates of plasticity mechanisms of interval timing that take place in the striatum and are regulated by the amygdala.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Fear / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology*