The lateral amygdaloid nucleus (AL) is anatomically connected with sensory processing structures in the thalamus and cortex and is believed to be critically involved in emotional processing by virtue of these connections. In order to understand further how auditory projections to AL contribute to emotional processing, acoustic response properties of single AL neurons were characterized in rats. Recordings were also made in the posterior striatum dorsal to AL. Many cells in AL and the striatum could be driven by broad-band auditory stimulation with white noise or clicks. Initial onset latencies were typically between 12 and 25 msec. Most cells also had later responses (60-150 msec), and a few only had late responses. In frequency receptive field tests, different classes of cells were identified. One group had relatively clear frequency preferences. Thresholds for these relatively tuned cells tended to be somewhat higher in AL than in the striatum. Frequency preferences for AL cells were always above 10 kHz. Although most striatal cells had preferences for frequencies above 10 kHz, some cells were found with frequencies below 10 kHz as well. A second group of acoustically responsive neurons, much more common in AL than in the striatum, showed no frequency specificity (untuned cells). These responded to a wide range of frequencies, even at intensities near threshold. A third group, found mainly in AL (~60% of the total population of cells examined in AL), exhibited rapid habituation to auditory stimuli. These tended to have high thresholds (80-100 dB). Because these cells habituated so quickly, frequency specificity could not be determined. Responses in AL and the striatum were compared with responses in the 'specific' auditory relay nucleus of the thalamus, the ventral division of the medial geniculate body, where cells had shorter onset latencies, narrower tuning functions, and lower-intensity thresholds than cells in AL and striatal areas. These findings show that cells in AL exhibit a wide range of auditory tuning properties and suggest that information processing in the amygdala might be fruitfully studied as a direct extension of processing in sensory afferent structures.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience|
|State||Published - 1992|
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