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Dynamic representation of appetitive and aversive stimuli in nucleus accumbens shell D1- and D2-medium spiny neurons


Authors: Ana Verónica Domingues, Tawan T. A. Carvalho, Gabriela J. Martins, Raquel Correia, Bárbara Coimbra, Ricardo Gonçalves, Marcelina Wezik, Rita Gaspar, Luísa Pinto, Nuno Sousa, Rui M. Costa, Carina Soares-Cunha, Ana João Rodrigues
Publication: bioRxiv
Date: February 23, 2024
Link to article: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2024.02.22.581563v1


The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is a key brain region for motivated behaviors, yet how distinct neuronal populations encode appetitive or aversive stimuli remains undetermined. Using microendoscopic calcium imaging, we tracked NAc shell D1- or D2-medium spiny neurons’ (MSNs) activity during exposure to stimuli of opposing valence and associative learning. Despite drift in individual neurons’ coding, both D1- and D2-population activity was sufficient to discriminate opposing valence unconditioned stimuli, but not predictive cues. Notably, D1- and D2-MSNs were similarly co-recruited during appetitive and aversive conditioning, supporting a concurrent role in associative learning. Conversely, when contingencies changed, there was an asymmetric response in the NAc, with more pronounced changes in the activity of D2-MSNs. Optogenetic manipulation of D2-MSNs provided causal evidence of the necessity of this population in the extinction of aversive associations.

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