The role of dopamine in the prelimbic cortex and the dorsomedial striatum in instrumental conditioning

Cerebral Cortex
B Lex, Wolfgang Hauber

Abstract

The prelimbic (PL) region of the prefrontal cortex and the posterior subregion of the dorsomedial striatum (pDMS) are components of a corticostriatal circuit subserving instrumental learning. Here, we examined whether dopamine (DA) signals conveyed to the PL and pDMS are critical for instrumental learning. Rats with 6-hydroxydopamine or vehicle infusion into the PL and pDMS were trained to press 2 levers, either for food pellets or a sucrose solution. Thereafter, we tested whether the animals were sensitive 1) to a selective degradation of 1 of 2 outcomes using a specific satiety procedure and 2) to a selective degradation of 1 of 2 contingencies controlling instrumental behavior. Rats with PL DA depletion displayed a reduced rate of lever presses but appeared to be sensitive to outcome devaluation and contingency degradation. Thus, PL DA seems to modulate lever pressing but does not support instrumental conditioning. In contrast, rats with pDMS DA depletion had intact response rates and were sensitive to selective outcome devaluation; however, they showed a reduced sensitivity to contingency degradation. Therefore, pDMS DA signaling seems not to be involved in maintaining lever pressing but instead contributes to instrumental ...Continue Reading

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