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"Pre-Programmed" Reward and Punishment Neurons Identified

The basolateral amygdala, an almond-shaped structure inside the brain, is responsible for fear- and reward-based learning. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor Bo Li and his postdoc Xian Zhang uncovered distinct hardwired circuits in this structure responsible for processing “positive” and “negative” stimuli that lead to reward or punishment for a mouse. In this image of a mouse amygdala, the green neurons and their connections process positive stimuli that lead the animal to seek rewards, while the red neurons and their connections process negative stimuli that lead the animal to avoid punishment. Image: Xian Zhang/Li lab
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