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J Neurosci. 2011 Jul 27;31(30):10829-35. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2246-11.2011.

Optogenetic interrogation of dopaminergic modulation of the multiple phases of reward-seeking behavior.

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1
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

Abstract

Phasic activation of dopaminergic neurons is associated with reward-predicting cues and supports learning during behavioral adaptation. While noncontingent activation of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental are (VTA) is sufficient for passive behavioral conditioning, it remains unknown whether the phasic dopaminergic signal is truly reinforcing. In this study, we first targeted the expression of channelrhodopsin-2 to dopaminergic neurons of the VTA and optimized optogenetically evoked dopamine transients. Second, we showed that phasic activation of dopaminergic neurons in freely moving mice causally enhances positive reinforcing actions in a food-seeking operant task. Interestingly, such effect was not found in the absence of food reward. We further found that phasic activation of dopaminergic neurons is sufficient to reactivate previously extinguished food-seeking behavior in the absence of external cues. This was also confirmed using a single-session reversal paradigm. Collectively, these data suggest that activation of dopaminergic neurons facilitates the development of positive reinforcement during reward-seeking and behavioral flexibility.

PMID:
21795535
PMCID:
PMC3171183
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2246-11.2011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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