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Immunohistochemical assessment of mesotelencephalic dopamine activity during the acquisition and expression of Pavlovian versus instrumental behaviours

Phillips, G.D., Setzu, E., Vugler, A. and Hitchcott, P.K. (2003) Immunohistochemical assessment of mesotelencephalic dopamine activity during the acquisition and expression of Pavlovian versus instrumental behaviours. Neuroscience, 117 (3). pp. 755-767. ISSN 0306-4522

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Abstract

Dopaminergic activity during Pavlovian or instrumental learning in key target regions of the mesotelencephalic dopamine system was investigated immunohistochemically using antibodies raised against glutaraldehyde-conjugated dopamine.

Experiment 1 examined dopamine immunoreactivity during acquisition of a Pavlovian conditioned-approach response. Observations were taken at three stages of learning: initial, intermediate and asymptotic; each with a conditioned stimulus+ (CS+) group for whom visual or auditory stimuli immediately preceded an unconditioned stimulus (sucrose), and a conditioned stimulus− (CS−) group for whom stimuli and the unconditioned stimulus were unpaired. Animals learned to approach the alcove during CS+ presentations, whilst approach behaviour of the CS− group remained low. In general, target regions exhibiting a dopaminergic reaction responded maximally during the intermediate stage of acquisition, and were less responsive initially, and not responsive at all at asymptote. Specifically, the pattern of dopaminergic response was: shell more than core of the nucleus accumbens; prefrontal cortex, central and basolateral nuclei of the amygdala also significantly responsive. Mediodorsal and laterodorsal striatal regions were reactive only very early in training.

Experiment 2 examined dopaminergic reaction following acquisition of a novel conditioned instrumental response. The conditioned response+ (CR+) group responded at a much higher rate on the lever for which unconditioned stimulus-associated stimuli were presented, than on the control lever. The conditioned response− (CR−) group responded at a low rate on both levers. In contrast with experiment 1, the most responsive regions were the core of the nucleus accumbens, medial prefrontal cortex and basolateral area of the amygdala.

Thus, the acquisition, but not expression of Pavlovian associations activated dopamine within several key target regions of the mesotelencephalic dopamine system, and preferentially within the shell rather than core of the nucleus accumbens. By contrast, acquisition of a novel instrumental response preferentially activated the core of the nucleus accumbens, and basolateral area of the amygdala. These data carry significant implications for the potential role of these regions in learning and memory.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Psychology (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2009 13:13
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2009 13:13
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0306-4522(02)00799-6
Status: Published
Publisher: Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam
Identification Number: 10.1016/S0306-4522(02)00799-6
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7074

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