Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2013 Mar 13;33(11):4782-95. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3746-12.2013.

Selective effects of dopamine depletion and L-DOPA therapy on learning-related firing dynamics of striatal neurons.

Author information

McGovern Institute for Brain Research and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Despite evidence that dopamine neurotransmission in the striatum is critical for learning as well as for movement control, little is yet known about how the learning-related dynamics of striatal activity are affected by dopamine depletion, a condition faced in Parkinson's disease. We made localized intrastriatal 6-hydroxydopamine lesions in rats and recorded within the dopamine-depleted sensorimotor striatal zone and its contralateral correspondent as the animals learned a conditional maze task. Rather than producing global, nonspecific elevations in firing rate across the task, the dopamine depletion altered striatal projection neuron activity and fast-spiking interneuron activity selectively, with sharply task-specific and cell type-specific effects, and often, with learning-stage selective effects as well. Striatal projection neurons with strong responses during the maze runs had especially elevated responsiveness during the maze runs. Projection neurons that, instead, fired most strongly before maze running showed elevated pre-start firing rates, but not during maze running, as learning progressed. The intrastriatal dopamine depletion severely affected the learning-related patterning of fast-spiking interneuron ensembles, especially during maze running and after extended training. Remarkably, L-DOPA treatment almost entirely reversed the depletion-induced elevations in pre-run firing of the projection neurons, and elevated their responses around start and end of maze runs. By contrast, L-DOPA failed to normalize fast-spiking interneuron activity. Thus the effects of striatal dopamine depletion and restoration on striatal activity are highly dependent not only on cell type, as previously shown, but also on the behavioral activity called for and the state of behavioral learning achieved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center