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Cereb Cortex. 2014 Apr;24(4):1075-87. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs394. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Learning-induced bidirectional plasticity of intrinsic neuronal excitability reflects the valence of the outcome.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel.


Long-term memory is supported not only by modulation of synaptic strength, but also by modifications in intrinsic neuronal properties. Learning-induced enhancement of neuronal excitability has been shown in the hippocampus and the piriform cortex, where it lasts for days and is involved in maintaining the learned skills. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is suggested to encode positive and negative significance of information, thus forming a unique experimental setting to monitor bidirectional changes as a function of the valence change. In rodents, olfaction is a major modality that guides goal-directed behavior. Here, we show that intrinsic neuronal excitability in BLA pyramidal neurons is differentially modified by positive and negative olfactory learning and explore the cellular mechanisms of such bidirectional intrinsic neuronal plasticity. Learning of complex olfactory-discrimination task, in which success was rewarded with drinking water, resulted with enhanced intrinsic excitability. Such enhancement is mediated by reduction in the slow potassium current. In contrast, olfactory fear conditioning, in which the animal learned to associate the odor with an electric shock, resulted in decreased intrinsic excitability, mediated by activation of the ยต-opioid-sensitive potassium current. We suggest that positive and negative changes in BLA excitability contribute to the encoding of opposite odor-value behaviors.


basolateral amygdala; brain slices; intracellular recordings; late AHP; olfactory learning

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