Dissociation of Appetitive Overexpectation and Extinction in the Infralimbic Cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2019 Aug 14;29(9):3687-3701. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy248.


Behavioral change is paramount to adaptive behavior. Two ways to achieve alterations in previously established behavior are extinction and overexpectation. The infralimbic (IL) portion of the medial prefrontal cortex controls the inhibition of previously established aversive behavioral responses in extinction. The role of the IL cortex in behavioral modification in appetitive Pavlovian associations remains poorly understood. Here, we seek to determine if the IL cortex modulates overexpectation and extinction of reward learning. Using overexpectation or extinction to achieve a reduction in behavior, the present findings uncover a dissociable role for the IL cortex in these paradigms. Pharmacologically inactivating the IL cortex left overexpectation intact. In contrast, pre-training manipulations in the IL cortex prior to extinction facilitated the reduction in conditioned responding but led to a disrupted extinction retrieval on test drug-free. Additional studies confirmed that this effect is restricted to the IL and not dependent on the dorsally-located prelimbic cortex. Together, these results show that the IL cortex underlies extinction but not overexpectation-driven reduction in behavior, which may be due to regulating the expression of conditioned responses influenced by stimulus-response associations rather than stimulus-stimulus associations.

Keywords: inactivation; prediction error; prefrontal cortex; rat; reward.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / drug effects
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical* / drug effects
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Muscimol / administration & dosage
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reward*


  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • Muscimol