Freezing is a species-typical defensive reaction to conditioned threats. While the neural circuitry of aversive Pavlovian behavior has been extensively studied, less is known about the circuitry underlying more active responses to danger. Here we show that the flow of information between the basal amygdala (BA) and the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) is necessary for signaled active avoidance behavior. Rats trained to avoid shock by shuttling during an auditory conditioned stimulus showed increased expression of the activity-dependent protein c-Fos in the NAcc, specifically the shell subregion (NAccSh). Silencing neural activity in the NAccSh, but not in the adjacent NAcc core, disrupted avoidance behavior. Disconnection of the BA and the NAccSh was just as effective at disrupting avoidance behavior as bilateral NAccSh inactivations, suggesting learned avoidance behavior requires an intact BA-NAccSh circuit. Together, these data highlight an essential role for the amygdalar projection to the ventral striatum in aversively motivated actions.
- Fear conditioning
- Negative reinforcement
- Two-way signaled active avoidance
ASJC Scopus subject areas