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Elife. 2015 Oct 30;4. pii: e09685. doi: 10.7554/eLife.09685.

Retroactive modulation of spike timing-dependent plasticity by dopamine.

Author information

1
Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Physiological Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Most reinforcement learning models assume that the reward signal arrives after the activity that led to the reward, placing constraints on the possible underlying cellular mechanisms. Here we show that dopamine, a positive reinforcement signal, can retroactively convert hippocampal timing-dependent synaptic depression into potentiation. This effect requires functional NMDA receptors and is mediated in part through the activation of the cAMP/PKA cascade. Collectively, our results support the idea that reward-related signaling can act on a pre-established synaptic eligibility trace, thereby associating specific experiences with behaviorally distant, rewarding outcomes. This finding identifies a biologically plausible mechanism for solving the 'distal reward problem'.

KEYWORDS:

dopamine; mouse; neuroscience; reward; synaptic plasticity

PMID:
26516682
PMCID:
PMC4626806
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.09685
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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