Animals constantly evaluate their environment in order to avoid potential threats and obtain reward in the form of food, shelter and social interactions. In order to appropriately respond to sensory cues from the environment, the brain needs to form and store multiple cue–outcome associations. These can then be used to form predictions of the valence of sounds, smells and other sensory inputs arising from the surroundings. However, these associations must be subject to constant update, as the environment can rapidly change. Failing to adapt to such change can be detrimental to survival. Several systems in the mammalian brain have evolved to perform these important behavioral functions. Among these systems, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex are prominent players. Although the amygdala has been shown to form strong cue–outcome associations, the prefrontal cortex is essential for modifying these associations through extinction and reversal learning, and synaptic plasticity occurring in the strong reciprocal connections between these structures is thought to underlie both adaptive and maladaptive learning. Here we review the synaptic organization of the amygdala–prefrontal circuit, and summarize the physiological and behavioral evidence for its involvement in appetitive and aversive learning.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank R Paz and Y Printz for critical reading of this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge support by the Israel Science Foundation (grant # 854/17 ) to OK, and by the Human Frontier Science Program, the European Research Council ( ERC-2013-StG 337637 ) and the Adelis Foundation to OY. We also acknowledge the support to OY by the Appleton Family Trust, the Lord Sieff Brimpton Memorial Fund and the Gertrude and Philip Nollman Career Development Chair.
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (all)