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Brain Res. 1993 May 28;612(1-2):253-7.

Lesions of the amygdala block conditional hypoalgesia on the tail flick test.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53201.


Exposure to an innocuous stimulus that has been paired with footshock during Pavlovian conditioning results in the activation of descending antinociceptive systems in the rat. Several recent studies indicate that the hypoalgesia observed when contextual stimuli are paired with shock and the formalin test is used to measure antinociception depends on the integrity of a neural circuit which includes the amygdala and the periaqueductal gray. The present experiment was designed to determine if the amygdala is also critical for hypoalgesia in response to a discrete auditory signal for footshock when hypoalgesia is measured with the radiant heat tail flick test. Groups of rats were exposed to a series of paired presentations of a tone and footshock or associative control treatments. After training, one half of the animals received large electrolytic lesions of the amygdala. Lesions of the amygdala blocked the time dependent elevation in tail flick latency following tone presentation in animals given paired training, but did not alter baseline tail flick responding. These data indicate that the amygdala is also essential for fear-related modulation of spinally mediated nociceptive reflexes, and provide further support for our current model in which amygdalo-mesencephalic projections are critical for the expression of certain forms of stress-induced hypoalgesia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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