Lesions of basolateral amygdala impair extinction of CS motivational value, but not of explicit conditioned responses, in Pavlovian appetitive second-order conditioning


: Dr Peter C. Holland, as above. E-mail: pch@jhu.edu


The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is important for the modification of the motivational significance of events through associative learning. In previous work, we found that BLA was critical for the acquisition of conditioned reinforcement value to a visual conditioned stimulus (CS) paired with food. Unlike normal rats, rats with neurotoxic lesions of the BLA failed to acquire Pavlovian second-order conditioning to an auditory stimulus paired with the first-order visual CS in the absence of food. In this experiment, we examined the role of BLA in the extinction of the previously acquired conditioned reinforcement value of a Pavlovian CS. Rats received first-order visual CS-food pairings prior to either BLA- or sham-lesions. Subsequent CS-alone extinction training reduced the ability of the visual CS to reinforce second-order conditioning of an auditory stimulus in the sham-lesioned rats, but not in the BLA-lesioned rats. Despite this persistence of the conditioned reinforcement value of the visual first-order CS in the BLA-lesioned rats, no effects of the lesions were observed on extinction of the explicit behavioural conditioned responses elicited by that CS.