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Neuron. 2010 Jul 15;67(1):144-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.06.016.

Distinct tonic and phasic anticipatory activity in lateral habenula and dopamine neurons.

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1
Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. bromberge@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

Dopamine has a crucial role in anticipation of motivational events. To investigate the underlying mechanisms of this process, we analyzed the activity of dopamine neurons and one of their major sources of input, neurons in the lateral habenula, while animals anticipated upcoming behavioral tasks. We found that lateral habenula and dopamine neurons anticipated tasks in two distinct manners. First, neurons encoded the timing distribution of upcoming tasks through gradual changes in their tonic activity. This tonic signal encoded rewarding tasks in preference to punishing tasks and was correlated with classic phasic coding of motivational value. Second, neurons transmitted a phasic signal marking the time when a task began. This phasic signal encoded rewarding and punishing tasks in similar manners, as though reflecting motivational salience. Our data suggest that the habenula-dopamine pathway motivates anticipation through a combination of tonic reward-related and phasic salience-related signals.

PMID:
20624598
PMCID:
PMC2905384
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2010.06.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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