Lesions of the rat basolateral amygdala reduce the behavioral response to ultrasonic vocalizations

Lisa-Maria Schönfeld, Maurice-Philipp Zech, Sandra Schäble, Markus Wöhr, Tobias Kalenscher*

*Kontaktforfatter for dette arbejde

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Rats emit vocalizations in the ultrasonic range (ultrasonic vocalizations; USVs), of which 50-kHz USVs could communicate positive affective states and induce approach behavior in conspecifics, whereas 22-kHz USVs might signal negative affective states and potential threats. Listening to 50-kHz USVs can be rewarding, but it is unknown which brain mechanisms are responsible for the assignment of reinforcing value to 50-kHz USVs. The behavioral responses induced by listening to 22-kHz USVs are heterogeneous and need further characterization. The amygdala is a region relevant for social perception, behavior and reward. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the basolateral amygdala (BLA) plays a causal role in motivating behavioral responses to 50-kHz and 22-kHz USVs. Rats with lesions of the BLA or sham lesions were repeatedly exposed to playback of either 50-kHz or 22-kHz USVs in a radial maze. Compared to sham rats, BLA-lesioned rats spent less time in the arms close to the USV speaker during playback of both 50-kHz or 22-kHz USVs. This difference in behavior was not due to impaired motor or general auditory abilities, indicating that BLA lesions selectively reduced the responsiveness to stimuli with social significance. This finding provides further support for the hypothesis that the BLA plays an important role in motivating approach behavior to social reinforcers.

TidsskriftBehavioural Brain Research
StatusUdgivet - 27. jan. 2020

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