Neural estimates of imagined outcomes in basolateral amygdala depend on orbitofrontal cortex

Federica Lucantonio, Matthew P.H. Gardner, Aaron Mirenzi, Laura E. Newman, Yuji K. Takahashi, Geoffrey Schoenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Reciprocal connections between the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) provide a critical circuit for guiding normal behavior when information about expected outcomes is required. Recently, we reported that outcome signaling by OFC neurons is also necessary for learning in the face of unexpected outcomes during a Pavlovian over-expectation task. Key to learning in this task is the ability to build on prior learning to infer or estimate an amount of reward never previously received. OFC was critical to this process. Notably, in parallel work, we found that BLA was not necessary for learning in this setting. This suggested a dissociation in which the BLA might be critical for acquiring information about the outcomes but not for subsequently using it to make novel predictions. Here we evaluated this hypothesis by recording single-unit activity from BLA in rats during the same Pavlovian over-expectation task used previously. We found that spiking activity recorded in BLA in control rats did reflect novel outcome estimates derived from the integration of prior learning, however consistent with a model in which this process occurs in the OFC, these correlates were entirely abolished by ipsilateral OFC lesions. These data indicate that this information about these novel predictions is represented in the BLA, supported via direct or indirect input from the OFC, even though it does not appear to be necessary for learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16521-16530
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 16 2015


  • Amygdala
  • Extinction
  • Orbitofrontal
  • Over-expectation
  • Rat
  • Single-unit


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