Effects of lesions of the amygdala central nucleus on autoshaped lever pressing

Stephen E. Chang, Daniel S. Wheeler, Peter C. Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Neutral cues paired with rewards often appear to acquire motivational significance, as if the incentive motivational value of the reward is transferred to the cue. Such cues have been reported to modulate the performance of instrumental action (Pavlovian-instrumental transfer, PIT), serve as conditioned reinforcers in the establishment of new learning, and be the targets of approach and other cue-directed behaviors. Here we examined the effects of lesions of the amygdala central nucleus (CeA) on the acquisition of discriminative autoshaped lever-pressing. Insertion of one lever into the experimental chamber was reinforced by sucrose delivery, but insertion of another lever was not reinforced. Although sucrose delivery was not contingent on lever pressing, both CeA- and sham-lesioned rats rapidly came to press the reinforced but not the nonreinforced lever. Despite their showing little evidence of impairments in autoshaped lever pressing, these same CeA-lesioned rats showed significant deficits in the expression of PIT in a subsequent phase of the experiment. The lack of impaired autoshaping in CeA-lesioned rats contrasts with effects previously reported for conditioned orienting responses (ORs) and for other putative measures of incentive learning including PIT and conditioned approach to visual cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Apr 23 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Autoshaping
  • Incentive salience
  • Orienting
  • Pavlovian instrumental transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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