Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 2018 Nov;563(7731):397-401. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0682-1. Epub 2018 Nov 7.

Dopamine enhances signal-to-noise ratio in cortical-brainstem encoding of aversive stimuli.

Author information

1
The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.
2
Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Radboudumc Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
3
Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, La Jolla, CA, USA.
4
The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA. tye@salk.edu.
5
Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, La Jolla, CA, USA. tye@salk.edu.

Abstract

Dopamine modulates medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) activity to mediate diverse behavioural functions1,2; however, the precise circuit computations remain unknown. One potentially unifying model by which dopamine may underlie a diversity of functions is by modulating the signal-to-noise ratio in subpopulations of mPFC neurons3-6, where neural activity conveying sensory information (signal) is amplified relative to spontaneous firing (noise). Here we demonstrate that dopamine increases the signal-to-noise ratio of responses to aversive stimuli in mPFC neurons projecting to the dorsal periaqueductal grey (dPAG). Using an electrochemical approach, we reveal the precise time course of pinch-evoked dopamine release in the mPFC, and show that mPFC dopamine biases behavioural responses to aversive stimuli. Activation of mPFC-dPAG neurons is sufficient to drive place avoidance and defensive behaviours. mPFC-dPAG neurons display robust shock-induced excitations, as visualized by single-cell, projection-defined microendoscopic calcium imaging. Finally, photostimulation of dopamine terminals in the mPFC reveals an increase in the signal-to-noise ratio in mPFC-dPAG responses to aversive stimuli. Together, these data highlight how dopamine in the mPFC can selectively route sensory information to specific downstream circuits, representing a potential circuit mechanism for valence processing.

Comment in

PMID:
30405240
PMCID:
PMC6645392
DOI:
10.1038/s41586-018-0682-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center