ERIC Number: EJ921190
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Ventral Tegmental Area and Substantia Nigra Neural Correlates of Spatial Learning
Martig, Adria K.; Mizumori, Sheri J. Y.
Learning & Memory, v18 n4 p260-271 Apr 2011
The ventral tegmental area (VTA) and substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) may provide modulatory signals that, respectively, influence hippocampal (HPC)- and striatal-dependent memory. Electrophysiological studies investigating neural correlates of learning and memory of dopamine (DA) neurons during classical conditioning tasks have found DA neural activity in VTA and SNc to be tightly coupled with reinforcement expectations. Also, VTA integrity and DA in HPC have been found to regulate the encoding of HPC-dependent memories. Therefore, to determine the nature of the neural code HPC may receive from midbrain DA regions, the present study investigated VTA and SNc neural activity as navigating rats engaged in new spatial learning and experienced changes in expected goal locations. VTA and SNc cells were differentially engaged during training to a series of three novel goal locations. During task acquisition, the peak firing rates of VTA neurons decreased at the time of reward and shifted to time points before reward retrieval, whereas the peak firing rates of SNc neurons remained elevated at the time of reward during training to all three goal locations. Both VTA and SNc egocentric coding was strongest during training to the first goal location, which coincided with the time subjects learned the behavioral rules specific to the task. These data imply that VTA and SNc play complementary yet distinct roles in spatial learning to optimize adaptive behavior.
Descriptors: Classical Conditioning, Memory, Brain, Rewards, Brain Hemisphere Functions, Spatial Ability, Neurological Organization, Reinforcement, Animals, Adjustment (to Environment), Learning Processes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A