The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Ventrolateral Striatal Medium Spiny Neurons Positively Regulate Food-Incentive, Goal-Directed Behavior Independently of D1 and D2 Selectivity.

PMID 28167674


The ventral striatum is involved in motivated behavior. Akin to the dorsal striatum, the ventral striatum contains two parallel pathways: the striatomesencephalic pathway consisting of dopamine receptor Type 1-expressing medium spiny neurons (D1-MSNs) and the striatopallidal pathway consisting of D2-MSNs. These two genetically identified pathways are thought to encode opposing functions in motivated behavior. It has also been reported that D1/D2 genetic selectivity is not attributed to the anatomical discrimination of two pathways. We wanted to determine whether D1- and D2-MSNs in the ventral striatum functioned in an opposing manner as previous observations claimed, and whether D1/D2 selectivity corresponded to a functional segregation in motivated behavior of mice. To address this question, we focused on the lateral portion of ventral striatum as a region implicated in food-incentive, goal-directed behavior, and recorded D1 or D2-MSN activity by using a gene-encoded ratiometric Ca(2+) indicator and by constructing a fiberphotometry system, and manipulated their activities via optogenetic inhibition during ongoing behaviors. We observed concurrent event-related compound Ca(2+) elevations in ventrolateral D1- and D2-MSNs, especially at trial start cue-related and first lever press-related times. D1 or D2 selective optogenetic inhibition just after the trial start cue resulted in a reduction of goal-directed behavior, indicating a shared coding of motivated behavior by both populations at this time. Only D1-selective inhibition just after the first lever press resulted in the reduction of behavior, indicating D1-MSN-specific coding at that specific time. Our data did not support opposing encoding by both populations in food-incentive, goal-directed behavior.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT An opposing role of dopamine receptor Type 1 or Type 2-expressing medium spiny neurons (D1-MSNs or D2-MSNs) on striatum-mediated behaviors has been widely accepted. However, this idea has been questioned by recent reports. In the present study, we measured concurrent Ca(2+) activity patterns of D1- and D2-MSNs in the ventrolateral striatum during food-incentive, goal-directed behavior in mice. According to Ca(2+) activity patterns, we conducted timing-specific optogenetic inhibition of each type of MSN. We demonstrated that both D1- and D2-MSNs in the ventrolateral striatum commonly and positively encoded action initiation, whereas only D1-MSNs positively encoded sustained motivated behavior. These findings led us to reconsider the prevailing notion of a functional segregation of MSN activity in the ventral striatum.