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Published June 13, 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Neural correlates of specific and general Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer within human amygdalar subregions: a high-resolution fMRI study


It is widely held that the interaction between instrumental and Pavlovian conditioning induces powerful motivational biases. Pavlovian-Instrumental Transfer (PIT) is one of the key paradigms demonstrating this effect, which can further be decomposed into a general and specific component. Although these two forms of PIT have been studied at the level of amygdalar subregions in rodents, it is still unknown whether they involve different areas of the human amygdala. Using a high-resolution fMRI (hr-fMRI) protocol optimized for the amygdala in combination with a novel free operant task designed to elicit effects of both general and specific PIT, we demonstrate that a region of ventral amygdala within the boundaries of the basolateral complex and the ventrolateral putamen are involved in specific PIT, while a region of dorsal amygdala within the boundaries of the centromedial complex is involved in general PIT. These results add to a burgeoning literature indicating different functional contributions for these different amygdalar subregions in reward-processing and motivation.

Additional Information

© 2012 The Authors. © 2012 Society for Neuroscience. Received Dec. 14, 2011; revised March 29, 2012; accepted April 30, 2012. Author contributions: C.P., M.L., and J.P.O. designed research; C.P. performed research; J.M.T. contributed unpublished reagents/analytic tools; C.P. analyzed data; C.P., M.L., J.M.T., and J.P.O. wrote the paper. This work was funded by Science Foundation Ireland Grant 08/IN.1/B1844 and a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to J.P.O. We thank Signe Bray for useful advice and Soyoung Park for helpful assistance with scanning.

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