Nucleus accumbens D1-receptors regulate and focus transitions to reward-seeking action
Grima LL., Panayi MC., Härmson O., Syed ECJ., Manohar SG., Husain M., Walton ME.
AbstractIt is well established that dopamine transmission is integral in mediating the influence of reward expectations on reward-seeking actions. However, the precise causal role of dopamine transmission in moment-to-moment reward-motivated behavioral control remains contentious, particularly in contexts where it is necessary to refrain from responding to achieve a beneficial outcome. To examine this, we manipulated dopamine transmission pharmacologically as rats performed a Go/No-Go task that required them to either make or withhold action to gain either a small or large reward. D1R Stimulation potentiated cue-driven action initiation, including fast impulsive actions on No-Go trials. By contrast, D1R blockade primarily disrupted the successful completion of Go trial sequences. Surprisingly, while after global D1R blockade this was characterized by a general retardation of reward-seeking actions, nucleus accumbens core (NAcC) D1R blockade had no effect on the speed of action initiation or impulsive actions. Instead, fine-grained analyses showed that this manipulation decreased the precision of animals’ goal-directed actions, even though they usually still followed the appropriate response sequence. Strikingly, such “unfocused” responding could also be observed off-drug, particularly when only a small reward was on offer. These findings suggest that the balance of activity at NAcC D1Rs plays a key role in enabling the rapid activation of a focused, reward-seeking state to enable animals to efficiently and accurately achieve their goal.