Basolateral to Central Amygdala Neural Circuits for Appetitive Behaviors

Neuron. 2017 Mar 22;93(6):1464-1479.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.02.034.


Basolateral amygdala (BLA) principal cells are capable of driving and antagonizing behaviors of opposing valence. BLA neurons project to the central amygdala (CeA), which also participates in negative and positive behaviors. However, the CeA has primarily been studied as the site for negative behaviors, and the causal role for CeA circuits underlying appetitive behaviors is poorly understood. Here, we identify several genetically distinct populations of CeA neurons that mediate appetitive behaviors and dissect the BLA-to-CeA circuit for appetitive behaviors. Protein phosphatase 1 regulatory subunit 1B+ BLA pyramidal neurons to dopamine receptor 1+ CeA neurons define a pathway for promoting appetitive behaviors, while R-spondin 2+ BLA pyramidal neurons to dopamine receptor 2+ CeA neurons define a pathway for suppressing appetitive behaviors. These data reveal genetically defined neural circuits in the amygdala that promote and suppress appetitive behaviors analogous to the direct and indirect pathways of the basal ganglia. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Keywords: amygdala circuit; appetitive; basolateral amygdala; central amygdala; direct and indirect pathways; drinking; fear; feeding; freezing; reward.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Basolateral Nuclear Complex / physiology*
  • Central Amygdaloid Nucleus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Protein Phosphatase 1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / physiology
  • Thrombospondins / metabolism


  • Drd1 protein, mouse
  • RSPO2 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Thrombospondins
  • Protein Phosphatase 1