Interplay of prefrontal cortex and amygdala during extinction of drug seeking

Valeria Oliva, Emilio Cartoni, Emanuele Claudio Latagliata, Stefano Puglisi-Allegra, Gianluca Baldassarre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extinction of Pavlovian conditioning is a complex process that involves brain regions such as the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the amygdala and the locus coeruleus. In particular, noradrenaline (NA) coming from the locus coeruleus has been recently shown to play a different role in two subregions of the mPFC, the prelimbic (PL) and the infralimbic (IL) regions. How these regions interact in conditioning and subsequent extinction is an open issue. We studied these processes using two approaches: computational modelling and NA manipulation in a conditioned place preference paradigm (CPP) in mice. In the computational model, NA in PL and IL causes inputs arriving to these regions to be amplified, thus allowing them to modulate learning processes in amygdala. The model reproduces results from studies involving depletion of NA from PL, IL, or both in CPP. In addition, we simulated new experiments of NA manipulations in mPFC, making predictions on the possible results. We searched the parameters of the model and tested the robustness of the predictions by performing a sensitivity analysis. We also present an empirical experiment where, in accord with the model, a double depletion of NA from both PL and IL in CPP with amphetamine impairs extinction. Overall the proposed model, supported by anatomical, physiological, and behavioural data, explains the differential role of NA in PL and IL and opens up the possibility to understand extinction mechanisms more in depth and hence to aid the development of treatments for disorders such as addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 28 2017


  • Amygdala
  • Conditioned place preference
  • Extinction
  • Leaky neurons
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Noradrenaline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology


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