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J Neurophysiol. 2010 Mar;103(3):1658-72. doi: 10.1152/jn.00432.2009. Epub 2010 Jan 20.

Reward-associated gamma oscillations in ventral striatum are regionally differentiated and modulate local firing activity.

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Department of Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Oscillations of local field potentials (LFPs) in the gamma range are found in many brain regions and are supposed to support the temporal organization of cognitive, perceptual, and motor functions. Even though gamma oscillations have also been observed in ventral striatum, one of the brain's most important structures for motivated behavior and reward processing, their specific function during ongoing behavior is unknown. Using a movable tetrode array, we recorded LFPs and activity of neural ensembles in the ventral striatum of rats performing a reward-collection task. Rats were running along a triangle track and in each round collected one of three different types of rewards. The gamma power of LFPs on subsets of tetrodes was modulated by reward-site visits, discriminated between reward types, between baitedness of reward locations and was different before versus after arrival at a reward site. Many single units in ventral striatum phase-locked their discharge pattern to the gamma oscillations of the LFPs. Phase-locking occurred more often in reward-related than in reward-unrelated neurons and LFPs. A substantial number of simultaneously recorded LFPs correlated poorly with each other in terms of gamma rhythmicity, indicating that the expression of gamma activity was heterogeneous and regionally differentiated. The orchestration of LFPs and single-unit activity by way of gamma rhythmicity sheds light on the functional architecture of the ventral striatum and the temporal coordination of ventral striatal activity for modulating downstream areas and regulating synaptic plasticity.

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