Contributed by Shigetada Nakanishi, March 23, 2014 (sent for review January 24, 2014) Dopamine (DA) transmission from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is critical for controlling both rewarding and aversive behaviors. The transient silencing of DA neurons is one of the responses to aversive stimuli, but its consequences and neural mechanisms regarding aversive responses and learning have largely remained elusive. Here, we report that optogenetic inactivation of VTA DA neurons promptly down-regulated DA levels and induced upregulation of the neural activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) as evaluated by Fos expression. This optogenetic suppression of DA neuron firing immediately evoked aversive responses to the previously preferred dark room and led to aversive learning toward the optogenetically conditioned place. Importantly, this place aversion was abolished by knockdown of dopamine D2 receptors but not by that of D1 receptors in the NAc. Silencing of DA neurons in the VTA was thus indispensable for inducing aversive responses and learning through dopamine D2 receptors in the NAc.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - 29-04-2014
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