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A neuronal mechanism for motivational control of behavior


Authors: Julien Courtin, Yael Bitterman, S. Müller, J. Hinz, K. M. Hagihara, C. Müller, Andreas Lüthi
Publication: Science
Date: January 7, 2022
Link to article: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abg7277


Acting to achieve goals depends on the ability to motivate specific behaviors based on their predicted consequences given an individual’s internal state. However, the underlying neuronal mechanisms that encode and maintain such specific motivational control of behavior are poorly understood. Here, we used Ca2+ imaging and optogenetic manipulations in the basolateral amygdala of freely moving mice performing noncued, self-paced instrumental goal-directed actions to receive and consume rewards. We found that distinct neuronal activity patterns sequentially represent the entire action-consumption behavioral sequence. Whereas action-associated patterns integrated the identity, value, and expectancy of pursued goals, consumption-associated patterns reflected the identity and value of experienced outcomes. Thus, the interplay between these patterns allows the maintenance of specific motivational states necessary to adaptively direct behavior toward prospective rewards.

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