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Journal Article

Encoding of environmental cues in central amygdala neurons during foraging

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Ponserre,  Marion
Department: Molecules-Signaling-Development / Klein, Martinsried, Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, Max Planck Society;

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Fermani,  Federica
Department: Molecules-Signaling-Development / Klein, Martinsried, Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, Max Planck Society;

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Gaitanos,  Louise
Department: Molecules-Signaling-Development / Klein, Martinsried, Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, Max Planck Society;

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Klein,  Rüdiger
Department: Molecules-Signaling-Development / Klein, Martinsried, Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Ponserre, M., Fermani, F., Gaitanos, L., & Klein, R. (2022). Encoding of environmental cues in central amygdala neurons during foraging. The Journal of Neuroscience, 42(18), 3783-3796. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.1791-21.2022.


Abstract
To successfully forage in an environment filled with rewards and threats, animals need to rely on familiar structures of their environment that signal food availability. The central amygdala (CeA) is known to mediate a panoply of consummatory and defensive behaviors, yet how specific activity patterns within CeA subpopulations guide optimal choices is not completely understood. In a paradigm of appetitive conditioning in which mice freely forage for food across a continuum of cues, we found that two major subpopulations of CeA neurons, Somatostatin-positive (CeA(Sst)) and protein kinase Co-positive (CeA(PKC delta)) neurons, can assign motivational properties to environmental cues. Although the proportion of food responsive cells was higher within CeA(Sst) than CeA(PKC delta) neurons, only the activities of CeA(PKC delta), but not CeA(Sst), neurons were required for learning of contextual food cues. Our findings point to a model in which CeA(PKC delta) neurons may incorporate stimulus salience together with sensory features of the environment to encode memory of the goal location.