Precise Coordination of Three-Dimensional Rotational Kinematics by Ventral Tegmental Area GABAergic Neurons.
The ventral tegmental area (VTA) is a midbrain region implicated in a variety of motivated behaviors. However, the function of VTA GABAergic (Vgat+) neurons remains poorly understood. Here, using three-dimensional motion capture, in vivo electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and optogenetics, we demonstrate a novel function of VTAVgat+ neurons. We found three distinct populations of neurons, each representing head angle about a principal axis of rotation: yaw, roll, and pitch. For each axis, opponent cell groups were found that increase firing when the head moves in one direction and decrease firing in the opposite direction. Selective excitation and inhibition of VTAVgat+ neurons generate opposite rotational movements. Thus, VTAVgat+ neurons serve a critical role in the control of rotational kinematics while pursuing a moving target. This general-purpose steering function can guide animals toward desired spatial targets in any motivated behavior.
Hughes, RN; Watson, GDR; Petter, EA; Kim, N; Bakhurin, KI; Yin, HH
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