Organization of Valence-Encoding and Projection-Defined Neurons in the Basolateral Amygdala

Anna Beyeler, Chia-Jung Chang, Margaux Silvestre, Clémentine Lévêque, Praneeth Namburi, Craig P. Wildes, Kay M. Tye
Cell Reports. 2018-01-23; 22(4): 905-918
DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.12.097

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The basolateral amygdala (BLA) mediates associative learning for both fear and reward. Accumulating evidence supports the notion that different BLA projections distinctly alter motivated behavior, including projections to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), medial aspect of the central amygdala (CeM), and ventral
hippocampus (vHPC). Although there is consensus regarding the existence of distinct subsets of BLA neurons encoding positive or negative valence, controversy remains regarding the anatomical arrangement of these populations. First, we map the location of more than 1,000 neurons distributed across the BLA and recorded during a Pavlovian discrimination task. Next, we determine the location of projection-defined neurons labeled with retrograde tracers and use CLARITY to reveal the axonal path in 3-dimensional space. Finally, we examine the local influence of each projection-defined populations within the BLA. Understanding the functional and topographical organization of circuits underlying valence assignment could reveal fundamental principles about emotional processing.

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