Feb 18, 2020

Basal forebrain-derived acetylcholine encodes valence-free reinforcement prediction error.

James Fitzhugh SturgillAdam Kepecs


Acetylcholine (Ach) is released by the cholinergic basal forebrain (CBF) throughout the cortical mantle and is implicated in behavioral functions ranging from arousal to attention to learning. Yet what signal ACh provides to cortex remains unresolved, hindering our understanding of its functional roles. Here we demonstrate that the CBF signals unsigned reinforcement prediction error, in contrast to dopamine (DA) neurons that encode reward prediction error. We show that both CBF neuronal activity and acetylcholine (ACh) release at cortical targets signal reinforcement delivery, acquire responses to predictive stimuli and show diminished responses to expected outcomes, hallmarks of a prediction error. To compare ACh with DA, we simultaneously monitored the activity of both neuromodulators during a serial reversal learning task. ACh tracked learning as swiftly as DA during acquisition but lagged slightly during extinction, suggesting that these neuromodulators play complementary roles in reinforcement as their patterns of innervation, cellular targets, and signaling mechanisms are themselves complementary. Through retrograde viral tracing we show that the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems engage overlapping upstream circuits, a...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Reinforcement Surgical Repair
HIV Viral Load
Dopaminergic Neurons
Cholinergic Neurons
Gene Circuits

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