Basolateral amygdala lesions abolish mutual reward preferences in rats

Julen Hernandez-Lallement, Marijn van Wingerden, Sandra Schäble, Tobias Kalenscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In a recent study, we demonstrated that rats prefer mutual rewards in a Prosocial Choice Task. Here, employing the same task, we show that the integrity of basolateral amygdala was necessary for the expression of mutual reward preferences. Actor rats received bilateral excitotoxic (n=12) or sham lesions (n=10) targeting the basolateral amygdala and were subsequently tested in a Prosocial Choice Task where they could decide between rewarding ("Both Reward") or not rewarding a partner rat ("Own Reward"), either choice yielding identical reward to the actors themselves. To manipulate the social context and control for secondary reinforcement sources, actor rats were paired with either a partner rat (partner condition) or with an inanimate rat toy (toy condition). Sham-operated animals revealed a significant preference for the Both-Reward-option in the partner condition, but not in the toy condition. Amygdala-lesioned animals exhibited significantly lower Both-Reward preferences than the sham group in the partner but not in the toy condition, suggesting that basolateral amygdala was required for the expression of mutual reward preferences. Critically, in a reward magnitude discrimination task in the same experimental setup, both sham-operated and amygdala-lesioned animals preferred large over small rewards, suggesting that amygdala lesion effects were restricted to decision making in social contexts, leaving self-oriented behavior unaffected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Basolateral Nuclear Complex/physiology
  • Choice Behavior/physiology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reward
  • Social Behavior


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