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Sign-tracking behavior, in which animals interact with a cue that predicts reward, provides an example of how incentive salience can be attributed to cues and elicit motivation. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) and ventral pallidum (VP) are two regions involved in cue-driven motivation. The VP, and NAc subregions including the medial shell and core, are critical for sign-tracking. Further, connections between the medial shell and VP are known to participate in sign-tracking and other motivated behaviors. The NAc lateral shell (NAcLSh) is a distinct and understudied subdivision of the NAc, and its contribution to the process by which reward cues acquire value remains unclear. The NAcLSh has been implicated in reward-directed behavior, and has reciprocal connections with the VP, suggesting that NAcLSh and VP interactions could be important mechanisms for incentive salience. Here, we use DREADDs (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs) and an intersectional viral delivery strategy to produce a biased inhibition of NAcLSh neurons projecting to the VP, and vice versa. We find that disruption of connections from NAcLSh to VP reduces sign-tracking behavior while not affecting consumption of food rewards. In contrast, VP to NAcLSh disruption affected neither sign-tracking nor reward consumption, but did produce a greater shift in animals' behavior more towards the reward source when it was available. These findings indicate that the NAcLSh→VP pathway plays an important role in guiding animals towards reward cues, while VP→NAcLSh back-projections may not and may instead bias motivated behavior towards rewards.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Neurobiology of learning and memory
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A contagious venereal disease caused by the spirochete TREPONEMA PALLIDUM.
A systemic non-venereal infection of the tropics caused by Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue.
A composite structure of the TELENCEPHALON that is defined by connectivity. It includes the NUCLEUS ACCUMBENS; the ISLANDS OF CALLEJA; and parts of the CAUDATE NUCLEUS; the PUTAMEN; and the SUBSTANTIA INNOMINATA.
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