Cellular studies can be divided into physiological recordings (field or single cells), and morphological observations. A large body of data is also available on the synaptic basis of learning, especially as it pertains to aversive conditioning.
Emotions can be defined as 'states elicited by reinforcing stimuli' (Rolls 1986), whereby the association (innately, through conditioning or learning) of reinforcer stimuli with a behavior is responsible for its emotional coloring.
At the cellular level, learning has been hypothetize to reply on synaptic plasticity of which LTP (long term potentiation) is a strong candidate. LTP is long lasting (hours to days), synapse specific (only the synapses stimulated during 'learning' are strengthened) and associative (the effects of several weak stimulation in different pathways add up).
LTP has been found in most of the neural systems involved in emotion processing. Specifically, it has been found in the lateral and basal nuclei of the amygdala (Clugnet & Ledoux 1990; Chapman et al 1990)