Basolateral amygdala lesions and sensitivity to reinforcer magnitude in concurrent chains schedules

Christa M. Helms, Suzanne H. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Previous studies show that the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is required for behavior to adjust when the value of a reinforcer decreases after satiation or pairing with gastric distress. This study evaluated the effect of pre- or post-training excitotoxic lesions of the BLA on changes in preference with another type of contingency change, reinforcer magnitude reversal. Rats were trained to press left and right levers during a variable-interval choice phase for 50 μl or 150 μl sucrose delivered to consistent locations after a 16-s delay. Tones were presented during the first and last 2 s of the delay to reinforcement. The tone frequency predicted the magnitude of sucrose reinforcement in baseline conditions. All groups acquired stable preference for the lever on the large (150 μl) reinforcer side. However, nose poking during the delay to large reinforcement was highly accurate (i.e., to the reinforced side) for all groups except the rats with BLA lesions induced before training, suggesting impaired control of behavior by the tone. After the acquisition of stable preference, the locations of the reinforcer magnitudes were unpredictably reversed for a single session. Pre-training lesions blunted changes in preference when the reinforcer magnitudes were reversed. Lesions induced after stable preference was acquired, but prior to reversal, did not disrupt changes in preference. The data suggest that the BLA contributes to the adaptation of choice behavior following changes in reinforcer magnitude. Impaired learning about the tone-reinforcer magnitude relationships may have disrupted discrimination of the reinforcer magnitude reversal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-218
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 22 2008


  • Basolateral amygdala
  • Choice
  • Choice in transition
  • Concurrent chains
  • Lever-press
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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