The present study was designed as an initial step in determining the specific anatomical systems of the amygdala which may contribute to the expression of conditioned heart rate responding during aversive Pavlovian conditioning in the New Zealand rabbit. Animals receiving either small or large radio-frequency lesions of the central nucleus of the amygdala demonstrated a significant attenuation of the conditioned bradycardia response to the conditioned stimulus when compared to that demonstrated by control animals. No significant effects of the lesions on baseline heart rate or on the heart rate orienting response to the conditioned stimulus were observed. Central nucleus lesions also produced a significant effect on the unconditioned heart rate response to the unconditioned stimulus manifested in an increased duration and prolonged habituation of the unconditioned response. The results are consistent with anatomical and physiological evidence suggesting the involvement of the central nucleus in the expression of emotional responses including accompanying cardiovascular alterations.
- Amygdala central nucleus
- Heart rate conditioning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience