ACHEMS 2019
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SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Heterogeneity in Ventral Striatal Encoding of Chemosensory-Driven Reinforcement
Katherine/N Wright1,2 & Daniel/W Wesson1,2
1Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States
2Center for Smell and Taste, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

The ability to navigate one’s environment and execute goal-directed behavior is critical for an organism’s survival and requires the coordination of sensory inputs with motivational states. The ventral striatum serves as a site of convergence from cortical and midbrain dopaminergic inputs to evaluate multimodal sensory stimuli and reward valuation, respectively, to inform and select the appropriate behavior. The ventral striatum is comprised of the nucleus accumbens (NAc), well-established for hedonic processing, and the olfactory tubercle (OT), which work from our lab has recently established represents goal-directed behavior and reward value. We thus hypothesized that the OT is capable of encoding reward-seeking behavior and reinforcement similarly to the NAc. To that end, we acquired single-unit activity simultaneously in the OT and NAc as mice engaged in an operant self-administration paradigm. Sucrose and cocaine served as reinforcers to evaluate chemosensory- and non-chemosensory-guided instrumental behaviors, respectively, with outcomes that involved active (oral sucrose) and passive (intravenous cocaine) consummatory phases. In both the NAc and OT we found populations of neurons whose firing patterns were dynamically modulated upon either or both the instrumental response and the consummatory phases. Future work will further profile these populations of neurons to identify neural representations of different aspects of hedonic value and reinforcement.