This model contrasts with prior proposals that spatial signals from the hippocampus could influence moment-by-moment action decisions in NAc neurons, which integrate the spatial signals with value prediction to promote the actions most likely to result in reward (Burgess et al., 1994; Poucet et al., 2004; Redish and Touretzky, 1997; Sharp et al., 1996). These models predict that NAc neurons should encode the direction of upcoming movements on an ongoing basis during locomotion. However, our current findings differ p38 protein kinase from these predictions in that
the cue-evoked firing (and thus locomotor encoding) arose well before the onset of movement and in that there was no consistent encoding of egocentric movement direction. Nevertheless, our results do not rule out a role for this excitation in the selection, within an allocentric reference frame, of the target location to approach (the “target selection hypothesis”). Specifically, the firing of individual NAc neurons could encode the value expected at a particular target location, and this signal could not only promote more vigorous approach but also bias the animal toward Atezolizumab molecular weight choosing that particular target. In support of the target selection hypothesis, inactivation of the NAc biased target selection toward less effortful options in a task in which rats chose between different flexible approach targets (Ghods-Sharifi and Floresco, 2010).
Furthermore, NAc reward-encoding neurons showed transient, anticipatory encoding of a rewarded location when a high-risk locomotor choice was required (van der Meer and Redish, 2009). Rebamipide On the other hand, the value of prospective actions was not strongly encoded by NAc neurons (Ito and Doya, 2009; Kim et al., 2009; Roesch et al., 2009). However, subjects in these studies chose between inflexible approach action sequences, raising the possibility that the value expected at a flexible approach target may be more strongly encoded by NAc neurons than the value of inflexible approach actions.
Further investigation of tasks with multiple flexible approach targets and reward values, using both electrophysiology and pharmacological manipulation of the NAc, is required to test the target selection hypothesis. All procedures were performed in accordance with the National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and were approved by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. This section describes methods pertaining to the DS task; conditional discrimination (CD) task methods are described in Taha et al. (2007) and the Supplemental Experimental Procedures. Rats moving freely within a behavioral chamber (40 × 40 cm) were trained to associate a particular auditory tone (DS) with the availability of a liquid sucrose reward (Ambroggi et al., 2008; Nicola, 2010).