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The amygdala regulates infomation flow from the prefrontal cortex to the nucleus accumbens

McGinty, Vincent Benjamin (2008) The amygdala regulates infomation flow from the prefrontal cortex to the nucleus accumbens. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Motivated behaviors are mediated by a neuronal circuit that includes the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. The amygdala signals the affective significance of cues in the environment, and the prefrontal cortex and accumbens contribute to planning and selecting actions. Thus, the physiological interactions within this circuit may be neural correlates for the interface between motivation and voluntary movement. Using in vivo electrophysiological recordings, we measured the effects of amygdala activation on excitatory transmission in the prefrontal cortex-to-nucleus accumbens pathway. In the prefrontal cortex, a subset of neurons that projected to the accumbens was excited by amygdala stimulation. Prefrontal-to-accumbens projecting neurons were also excited by Pavlovian conditioned odors, suggesting a role for this pathway in the expression of conditioned fear. In neurons of the accumbens, amygdala input facilitated and shifted the latency of spikes elicited by prefrontal cortex stimulation. Facilitation was greatest when amygdala and prefrontal cortex were stimulated nearly synchronously at subthreshold intensities, suggesting that accumbens neurons integrate both the timing and strength of their afferent inputs. In additional accumbens recordings, high intensity amygdala activation induced an activity-dependent depression of prefrontally elicited spiking; thus, the amygdala is able to modulate prefrontal-to-accumbens transmission by several mechanisms. Taken together, these findings show that the amygdala can influence neuronal transmission at two critical motor-related sites in the brain. In this way, affective information may constrain and gate action, resulting in optimal behavioral responses to salient motivational stimuli.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McGinty, Vincent Benjaminvbm2@pitt.eduVBM2
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMoghaddam, Bitabita@pitt.eduBITA
Committee MemberGrace, Anthony A.graceaa@pitt.eduGRACEAA
Committee MemberBarrionuevo, Germángerman@bns.pitt.eduGERMAN
Committee MemberGallagher, Joel
Committee MemberStrick, Peter L.strickp@pitt.eduSTRICKP
Committee Member,
Date: 30 October 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 29 May 2008
Approval Date: 30 October 2008
Submission Date: 16 June 2008
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Neuroscience
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: addiction; electrophysiology; emotion; fear; in vivo; medium spiny neuron; pyramidal neuron; reward; ventral striatum
Other ID:, etd-06162008-184056
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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