The amygdala is not necessary for unconditioned stimulus inflation after Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats.
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The basolateral complex (BLA) and central nucleus (CEA) of the amygdala play critical roles in associative learning, including Pavlovian conditioning. However, the precise role for these structures in Pavlovian conditioning is not clear. Recent work in appetitive conditioning paradigms suggests that the amygdala, particularly the BLA, has an important role in representing the value of the unconditioned stimulus (US). It is not known whether the amygdala performs such a function in aversive paradigms, such as Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats. To address this issue, Experiments 1 and 2 used temporary pharmacological inactivation of the amygdala prior to a US inflation procedure to assess its role in revaluing shock USs after either overtraining (Experiment 1) or limited training (Experiment 2), respectively. Inactivation of the BLA or CEA during the inflation session did not affect subsequent increases in conditioned freezing observed to either the tone conditioned stimulus (CS) or the conditioning context in either experiment. In Experiment 3, NBQX infusions into the BLA impaired the acquisition of auditory fear conditioning with an inflation-magnitude US, indicating that the amygdala is required for associative learning with intense USs. Together, these results suggest that the amygdala is not required for revaluing an aversive US despite being required for the acquisition of fear to that US.