By Danielle Houghton
Barry Setlow, Ph. D. and Jen Bizon, Ph.D. co-edit an invitational special issue of the Behavioural Brain Research journal titled “Amygdala and value-based decision making,” based on related previous work.
The journal issue specifically address emerging ideas regarding the function of the amygdala. Broadly speaking, this brain region is involved in emotion and processing information about valence or what the brain perceives as ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ Moreover, in the last 10 years, there is an increased recognition that the amygdala plays a critical role in decision making and specifically how our brain weighs the possible positive and negative outcomes when deciding between two choice options.
Setlow and Bizon have published several papers on the role of the amygdala in decision making using optogenetic approaches, which can be used to manipulate brain activity in specific brain regions with great temporal precision. Using optogenetics, they have been focused on dissecting the amygdala’s role in how options are valued before a choice and how the amygdala uses information about outcomes from prior choices to guide future decisions.
“The journal is an opportunity to highlight advances across the field that have shaped our understanding of how the amygdala guides decision-making.” says Setlow. “It’s been a valuable experience to invite work from our colleagues doing terrific work this area and to have the opportunity to interact with some of the new investigators conducting research on this topic.”
Setlow further mentions, “One of the things I’m happiest about is the significant interest in the special issue.” Several review articles have emerged, highlighting new experimental approaches and consideration of novel roles for the amygdala – the issue offers a really “nice breadth of topics and perspectives.”