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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Jun;221(3):407-26. doi: 10.1007/s00213-011-2588-6. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

What and when to "want"? Amygdala-based focusing of incentive salience upon sugar and sex.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. mahler@musc.edu

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Amygdala-related circuitry helps translate learned Pavlovian associations into appetitive and aversive motivation, especially upon subsequent encounters with cues.

OBJECTIVES:

We asked whether μ-opioid stimulation via microinjections of the specific agonist D-Ala(2), N-MePhe(4), Gly-ol)-enkephalin (DAMGO) in central nucleus of amygdala (CeA), or the adjacent basolateral amygdala (BLA) would magnify sucrose or sex "wanting", guided by available cues.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

CeA or BLA DAMGO enhancement of cue-triggered "wanting" was assessed using Pavlovian to instrumental transfer (PIT). Unconditioned food "wanting" was measured via intake, and male sexual "wanting" for an estrous female was measured in a sexual approach test. Sucrose hedonic taste "liking" was measured in a taste reactivity test.

RESULTS:

CeA (but not BLA) DAMGO increased the intensity of phasic peaks in instrumental sucrose seeking stimulated by Pavlovian cues over precue levels in PIT, while suppressing seeking at other moments. CeA DAMGO also enhanced food intake, as well as sexual approach and investigation of an estrous female by males. DAMGO "wanting" enhancements were localized to CeA, as indicated by "Fos plume"-based anatomical maps for DAMGO causation of behavioral effects. Despite increasing "wanting", CeA DAMGO decreased the hedonic impact or "liking" for sucrose in a taste reactivity paradigm.

CONCLUSIONS:

CeA μ-opioid stimulation specifically enhances incentive salience, which is dynamically guided to food or sex by available cues.

PMID:
22167254
PMCID:
PMC3444284
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-011-2588-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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