To survive in a complex environment, individuals form associations between environmental stimuli and rewards to organize and optimize reward seeking behaviors. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) uses these learned associations to inform decision-making processes. In this review, we describe functional projections between BLA and its cortical and striatal targets that promote learning and motivational processes central to decision-making. Specifically, we compare and contrast divergent projections from the BLA to the orbitofrontal (OFC) and to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and examine the roles of these pathways in associative learning, value-guided decision-making, choice behaviors, as well as cue and context-driven drug seeking. Finally, we consider how these projections are involved in disorders of motivation, with a focus on Substance Use Disorder.
Keywords: Basolateral amygdala; Behavioral flexibility; Decision-making; Incentive motivation; Nucleus accumbens; Orbitofrontal cortex.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.