Action Potential

Light dissection of reward

Out online in Nature today: a paper from Naoshige Uchida and colleagues about cell-type specific reward and punishment signals in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of mice. The VTA is a midbrain region heavily implicated in reward and addiction, and its outputs are thought to provide reward-related signals to other brain areas. One subpopulation of cells with the VTA, the dopaminergic neurons, have been the topic of intense study for their potential computational role in reward learning. Over a decade ago Wolfram Schultz and colleagues found that in monkeys, dopaminergic neurons fired for unexpected rewards, but were also suppressed if expected rewards were not received. 

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