A Caltech Library Service

Value-related neuronal responses in the human amygdala during observational learning

Aquino, Tomas G. and Minxha, Juri and Dunne, Simon and Ross, Ian B. and Mamelak, Adam N. and Rutishauser, Ueli and O'Doherty, John P. (2020) Value-related neuronal responses in the human amygdala during observational learning. Journal of Neuroscience, 40 (24). pp. 4761-4772. ISSN 0270-6474. PMCID PMC7294800.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The amygdala plays an important role in many aspects of social cognition and reward learning. Here, we aimed to determine whether human amygdala neurons are involved in the computations necessary to implement learning through observation. We performed single-neuron recordings from the amygdalae of human neurosurgical patients (male and female) while they learned about the value of stimuli through observing the outcomes experienced by another agent interacting with those stimuli. We used a detailed computational modeling approach to describe patients' behavior in the task. We found a significant proportion of amygdala neurons whose activity correlated with both expected rewards for oneself and others, and in tracking outcome values received by oneself or other agents. Additionally, a population decoding analysis suggests the presence of information for both observed and experiential outcomes in the amygdala. Encoding and decoding analyses suggested observational value coding in amygdala neurons occurred in a different subset of neurons than experiential value coding. Collectively, these findings support a key role for the human amygdala in the computations underlying the capacity for learning through observation.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle Paper
Minxha, Juri0000-0003-4942-3269
Dunne, Simon0000-0003-4875-7953
Mamelak, Adam N.0000-0002-4245-6431
Rutishauser, Ueli0000-0002-9207-7069
O'Doherty, John P.0000-0003-0016-3531
Additional Information:© 2020 the authors. Received Dec. 5, 2019; revised Mar. 25, 2020; accepted Apr. 25, 2020. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01DA040011 and R01MH111425 (to J.P.O.), R01MH110831 (to U.R.), and P50MH094258 (to J.P.O. and U.R.). Author contributions: J.M., S.D., U.R., and J.P.O. designed research; J.M., I.B.R., A.N.M., U.R., and J.P.O. performed research; T.G.A. contributed unpublished reagents/analytic tools; T.G.A. and J.M. analyzed data; T.G.A., U.R., J.M., U.R., and J.P.O. wrote the first draft of the paper; T.G.A., J.M., U.R., and J.P.O. wrote the paper. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:decision making; human electrophysiology; intracranial recordings; observational learning; reinforcement learning; social cognition
Issue or Number:24
PubMed Central ID:PMC7294800
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20191209-075734741
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Value-Related Neuronal Responses in the Human Amygdala during Observational Learning. Tomas G. Aquino, Juri Minxha, Simon Dunne, Ian B. Ross, Adam N. Mamelak, Ueli Rutishauser, John P. O'Doherty. Journal of Neuroscience 10 June 2020, 40 (24) 4761-4772; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2897-19.2020
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100227
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Dec 2019 18:30
Last Modified:12 Jan 2021 16:40

Repository Staff Only: item control page