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Brain Res. 1990 Feb 19;509(2):213-31.

Neuronal responses related to reinforcement in the primate basal forebrain.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, U.K.


In the present study neurones recorded in the substantia innominata, the diagonal band of Broca and a periventricular region of the basal forebrain responded differentially to stimuli signalling the availability of fruit juice or saline obtained by making lick responses in two different visual discrimination tasks. The activity of certain neurones reflected the rewarding nature of stimuli used to signal the availability of juice in the tasks, responding to the sight and delivery of both foods and syringes used to deliver juice in tests in which behavioural responses were irrelevant. The activity of other neurones reflected aversion, responding to task stimuli signalling availability of saline and to syringes used to deliver saline to the mouth. In another task an auditory cue that signalled the availability of juice elicited neuronal responses. These neurones also responded to a tone cue used to signal the onset of the trial, and during certain mouth and arm movements which the monkey used to obtain reinforcement. The responses of these differential neurones were similar in most respects in all 3 regions of the basal forebrain. Thus these neurones respond to a range of visual and auditory stimuli that monkeys have learned can be used to obtain reinforcement, but not on the basis of sensory properties such as shape or colour of the stimuli. We conclude that the reinforcement-related nature of the neuronal signal from the basal forebrain could be used to facilitate processing in cortical regions, optimising the functioning of sensory, motor and association cortices, thus increasing the probability of responding appropriately to learned environmental contingencies. We suggest that the properties of these neurones are due to afferent inputs from ventromedial regions of the prefrontal and temporal cortices and amygdala.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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