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Behav Neurosci. 2014 Feb;128(1):71-82. doi: 10.1037/a0035445.

Role of amygdala central nucleus in the potentiation of consuming and instrumental lever-pressing for sucrose by cues for the presentation or interruption of sucrose delivery in rats.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.


Initially neutral conditioned stimuli (CSs) paired with food often acquire motivating properties. For example, CS presentations may enhance the rate of instrumental responding that normally earns that food reward (Pavlovian-instrumental transfer), or potentiate consumption of that food when the animal is food-sated. Recent evidence suggests that cues associated with the withdrawal of food and food cues (interruption stimuli or ISs) may also potentiate feeding, despite exhibiting some characteristics of conditioned inhibition. Here, we compared the ability of CSs and ISs to modulate both eating food and working for it. If CSs and ISs potentiate eating food by controlling a similar incentive state, both types of cues might also be expected to enhance instrumental responding for food. Although we found substantial potentiation of feeding by both CSs and ISs, and powerful enhancement of instrumental responding by a CS, we found no evidence for such instrumental enhancement by an IS. Furthermore, although an IS produced more FOS expression in the amygdala central nucleus (CeA) than either a previously reinforced CS or a control stimulus after a test for potentiated feeding, an intact CeA was unnecessary for potentiation of feeding by either a CS or an IS. Nevertheless, as in previous studies, CeA was critical to the ability of a CS to enhance instrumental responding. Implications for understanding the nature and basis for incentive learning are discussed.

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