• amygdala central nucleus;
  • attention;
  • conditioning;
  • NBQX;
  • orienting;
  • rat


When exposed to pairings of a visual stimulus with food delivery, rats normally acquire both conditioned orienting responses directed toward the visual stimulus and conditioned food-related responses. Consistent with the results of previous lesion studies, reversible inactivation of amygdala central nucleus function before each conditioning session prevented the acquisition of conditioned orienting responses, whereas food-related behaviors were acquired normally. By contrast, neither inactivation nor neurotoxic lesions of central nucleus affected the expression of previously acquired conditioned orienting responses. Thus, the central nucleus is apparently not critical to the maintenance of information required for conditioned orienting, but instead is necessary for memory storage elsewhere. Specialized roles for components of a circuit for conditioned orienting, which includes the central nucleus, the substantia nigra, and dorsolateral striatum, are discussed.