Apr 15, 2020

Acetylcholine is released in the basolateral amygdala in response to predictors of reward and enhances learning of cue-reward contingency

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
R. B. CrouseMarina Picciotto

Abstract

The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is critical for associating initially neutral cues with appetitive and aversive stimuli and receives dense neuromodulatory acetylcholine (ACh) projections. We measured BLA ACh signaling and principal neuron activity in mice during cue-reward learning using a fluorescent ACh sensor and calcium indicators. We found that ACh levels and activity of nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) cholinergic terminals in the BLA (NBM-BLA) increased sharply in response to reward-related events and shifted as mice learned the tone-reward contingency. BLA principal neuron activity followed reward retrieval and moved to the reward-predictive tone after task acquisition. Optical stimulation of cholinergic NBM-BLA terminal fibers during cue-reward learning led to more rapid learning of the cue-reward contingency. These results indicate that BLA ACh signaling carries important information about salient events in cue-reward learning and provides a framework for understanding how ACh signaling contributes to shaping BLA responses to emotional stimuli.

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