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Brain Res. 1994 Feb 28;638(1-2):157-68.

Spatial, movement- and reward-sensitive discharge by medial ventral striatum neurons of rats.

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Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112.


Previous behavioral and acute electrophysiological data have lead researchers to speculate that the nucleus accumbens integrates limbic, reward and motor information. The present study examined the behavioral correlates to single unit activity of the nucleus accumbens and surrounding ventral striatum as a means of evaluating the integrative functioning of this region in an awake animal. Medial ventral striatum (mVS) activity was recorded as rats completed multiple trials on an eight arm radial maze. Neuronal activity was found to correlate with spatial, reward- and movement-related behavioral conditions. While the majority of cells demonstrated correlates of a single type (i.e. either spatial or reward correlates), 6 cells encoded multiple correlates of different types (i.e. spatial and reward correlates). The data suggests that this integrative process can be active both at the level of the individual neuron, and at the structural level. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the mVS integrates spatial and reward-related information, which in turn influences voluntary motor output structures in order to achieve accurate navigational behavior.

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