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Researchers supported by the BIAL Foundation publish in the Journal Nature Communications

07 October, 2019

The research team of the project 30/16 - Exploring the neural basis of motivation, led by Ana João Rodrigues, published in Nature Communications journal the paper Role of laterodorsal tegmentum projections to nucleus accumbens in reward-related behaviors.

 The laterodorsal tegmentum (LDT) is associated with reward considering that it modulates VTA neuronal activity, but recent anatomical evidence shows that the LDT also directly projects to nucleus accumbens (NAc). We show that the majority of LDT-NAc inputs are cholinergic, but there is also GABAergic and glutamatergic innervation; activation of LDT induces a predominantly excitatory response in the NAc. Non-selective optogenetic activation of LDT-NAc projections in rats enhances motivational drive and shifts preference to an otherwise equal reward; whereas inhibition of these projections induces the opposite. Activation of these projections also induces robust place preference. In mice, specific activation of LDT-NAc cholinergic inputs (but not glutamatergic or GABAergic) is sufficient to shift preference, increase motivation, and drive positive reinforcement in different behavioral paradigms. These results provide evidence that LDT-NAc projections play an important role in motivated behaviors and positive reinforcement, and that distinct neuronal populations differentially contribute for these behaviors.”