Reward activity in ventral pallidum tracks satiety-sensitive preference and drives choice behavior

David J. Ottenheimer, Karen Wang, Xiao Tong, Kurt M. Fraser, Jocelyn M. Richard, Patricia H. Janak

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12 Scopus citations


A key function of the nervous system is producing adaptive behavior across changing conditions, like physiological state. Although states like thirst and hunger are known to impact decision-making, the neurobiology of this phenomenon has been studied minimally. Here, we tracked evolving preference for sucrose and water as rats proceeded from a thirsty to sated state. As rats shifted from water choices to sucrose choices across the session, the activity of a majority of neurons in the ventral pallidum, a region crucial for reward-related behaviors, closely matched the evolving behavioral preference. The timing of this signal followed the pattern of a reward prediction error, occurring at the cue or the reward depending on when reward identity was revealed. Additionally, optogenetic stimulation of ventral pallidum neurons at the time of reward was able to reverse behavioral preference. Our results suggest that ventral pallidum neurons guide reward-related decisions across changing physiological states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabc9321
JournalScience Advances
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 4 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the NIH grant R01DA035943 (P.H.J.) and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under grant no. DGE-1746891 (D.J.O.).


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