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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Restriction of dopamine signaling to the dorsolateral striatum is sufficient for many cognitive behaviors.


PMID 19667174

Abstract

The striatum is a vital substrate for performance, procedural memory, and learning. The ventral and medial striatum are thought to be critical for acquisition of tasks while the dorsolateral striatum is important for performance and habitual enactment of skills. Evidence based on cortical, thalamic, and amygdaloid inputs to the striatum suggests a medio-lateral zonation imposed on the classical dorso-ventral distinction. We therefore investigated the functional significance of dopaminergic signaling in cognitive tasks by studying dopamine-deficient (DD) mice and mice with dopamine signaling restored to only the dorsolateral (DL) striatum by viral rescue (vrDD-DL mice). Whereas DD mice failed in all of the tasks examined here, vrDD-DL mice displayed intact discriminatory learning, object recognition, visuospatial learning and spatial memory. Acquisition of operant behavior for food rewards was delayed in vrDD-DL mice and their motivation in a progressive ratio experiments was reduced. Therefore, dopaminergic signaling in the dorsolateral striatum is sufficient for mice to learn several different cognitive tasks although the rate of learning some of them was reduced. These results indicate that dopaminergic signaling in the ventromedial striatum is not absolutely necessary for mastery of these behaviors, but may facilitate them.

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