Coincident but distinct messages of midbrain dopamine and striatal tonically active neurons

Midbrain dopamine and striatal tonically active neurons (TANs, presumed acetylcholine interneurons) signal behavioral significance of environmental events. Since striatal dopamine and acetylcholine affect plasticity of cortico-striatal transmission and are both crucial to learning, they may serve as teachers in the basal ganglia circuits. We recorded from both neuronal populations in monkeys performing a probabilistic instrumental conditioning task. Both neuronal types respond robustly to reward-related events. Although different events yielded responses with different latencies, the responses of the two populations coincided, indicating integration at the target level. Yet, while the dopamine neurons’ response reflects mismatch between expectation and outcome in the positive domain, the TANs are invariant to reward predictability. Finally, TAN pairs are synchronized, compared to a minority of dopamine neuron pairs. We conclude that the striatal cholinergic and dopaminergic systems carry distinct messages by different means, which can be integrated differently to shape the basal ganglia responses to reward-related events.

Authors: Morris G, Arkadir D, Nevet A, Vaadia E, Bergman H.
Year of publication: 2004
Journal: Neuron. 43(1):133-43.

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