Bidirectional modulation of substantia nigra activity by motivational state.
A major output nucleus of the basal ganglia is the substantia nigra pars reticulata, which sends GABAergic projections to brainstem and thalamic nuclei. The GABAergic (GABA) neurons are reciprocally connected with nearby dopaminergic neurons, which project mainly to the basal ganglia, a set of subcortical nuclei critical for goal-directed behaviors. Here we examined the impact of motivational states on the activity of GABA neurons in the substantia nigra pars reticulata and the neighboring dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the pars compacta. Both types of neurons show short-latency bursts to a cue predicting a food reward. As mice became sated by repeated consumption of food pellets, one class of neurons reduced cue-elicited firing, whereas another class of neurons progressively increased firing. Extinction or pre-feeding just before the test session dramatically reduced the phasic responses and their motivational modulation. These results suggest that signals related to the current motivational state bidirectionally modulate behavior and the magnitude of phasic response of both DA and GABA neurons in the substantia nigra.
Rossi, MA; Fan, D; Barter, JW; Yin, HH
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