Role of the amygdala complex in early olfactory associative learning.Behav Neurosci. 1993 Apr; 107(2):254-63.BN
Although olfactory associative conditioning in newborn rats produces marked structural and functional changes in the olfactory bulb, recent evidence suggests that extrabulbar circuits must be involved in storing these early memories. The present experiments examined the role of the amygdala complex on early olfactory learning. Bilateral amygdala lesions or sham lesions were performed on Postnatal Day (PN) 5. On PN6, pups were trained in a standard classical conditioning paradigm associating odor with tactile stimulation. Behavioral testing on PN7 revealed that amygdala lesions blocked odor preferences but had no effect on conditioned behavioral activation. Similar sized neocortical lesions did not impair odor preferences. Importantly, amygdala lesion effects on learned odor preferences could be reversed by extensive overtraining. These results suggest that the amygdala complex plays a critical role in modulating associative learning as early as the first postnatal week in the rat.