Attention-related pearce-kaye-hall signals in basolateral amygdala require the midbrain dopaminergic system

Guillem R. Esber, Matthew R. Roesch, Shreya Bali, Jason Trageser, Gregory B. Bissonette, Adam C. Puche, Peter C. Holland, Geoffrey Schoenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Neural activity in basolateral amygdala has recently been shown to reflect surprise or attention as predicted by the Pearce-Kaye-Hall model (PKH) - an influential model of associative learning. Theoretically, a PKH attentional signal originates in prediction errors of the kind associated with phasic firing of dopamine neurons. This requirement for prediction errors, coupled with projections from the midbrain dopamine system into basolateral amygdala, suggests that the PKH signal in amygdala may depend on dopaminergic input. Methods: To test this, we recorded single unit activity in basolateral amygdala in rats with 6-hydroxydopamine or sham lesions of the ipsilateral midbrain region. Neurons were recorded as the rats performed a task previously used to demonstrate both dopaminergic reward prediction errors and attentional signals in basolateral amygdala neurons. Results: We found that neurons recorded in sham lesioned rats exhibited the same attention-related PKH signal observed in previous studies. By contrast, neurons recorded in rats with ipsilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions failed to show attentional signaling. Conclusions: These results indicate a linkage between the neural instantiations of the basolateral complex of the amygdala attentional signal and dopaminergic prediction errors. Such a linkage would have important implications for understanding both normal and aberrant learning and behavior, particularly in diseases thought to have a primary effect on dopamine systems, such as addiction and schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1019
Number of pages8
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • dopamine
  • prediction error
  • rat
  • salience
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Attention-related pearce-kaye-hall signals in basolateral amygdala require the midbrain dopaminergic system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this