Both the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) contribute to learned behavioral choice. Neurons in both structures that encode reward-predictive cues may underlie the decision to respond to such cues, but the neural circuits by which the BLA influences reward-seeking behavior have not been established. Here, we test the hypothesis that the BLA drives NAc neuronal responses to reward-predictive cues. First, using a disconnection experiment, we show that the BLA and dopamine projections to the NAc interact to promote the reward-seeking behavioral response. Next, we demonstrate that BLA neuronal responses to cues precede those of NAc neurons and that cue-evoked excitation of NAc neurons depends on BLA input. These results indicate that BLA input is required for dopamine to enhance the cue-evoked firing of NAc neurons and that this enhanced firing promotes reward-seeking behavior.
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