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Nat Commun. 2018 Jan 15;9(1):211. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02615-9.

Chronic alcohol exposure disrupts top-down control over basal ganglia action selection to produce habits.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA.
2
Department of Psychology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA. cgremel@ucsd.edu.
3
The Neurosciences Graduate Program, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA. cgremel@ucsd.edu.

Abstract

Addiction involves a predominance of habitual control mediated through action selection processes in dorsal striatum. Research has largely focused on neural mechanisms mediating a proposed progression from ventral to dorsal lateral striatal control in addiction. However, over reliance on habit striatal processes may also arise from reduced cortical input to striatum, thereby disrupting executive control over action selection. Here, we identify novel mechanisms through which chronic intermittent ethanol exposure and withdrawal (CIE) disrupts top-down control over goal-directed action selection processes to produce habits. We find CIE results in decreased excitability of orbital frontal cortex (OFC) excitatory circuits supporting goal-directed control, and, strikingly, selectively reduces OFC output to the direct output pathway in dorsal medial striatum. Increasing the activity of OFC circuits restores goal-directed control in CIE-exposed mice. Our findings show habitual control in alcohol dependence can arise through disrupted communication between top-down, goal-directed processes onto basal ganglia pathways controlling action selection.

PMID:
29335427
PMCID:
PMC5768774
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-017-02615-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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