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Keywords:

  • 6-hydroxydopamine;
  • cognition;
  • instrumental conditioning;
  • rats;
  • striatum

Abstract

Pavlovian stimuli predictive of appetitive outcomes can influence the selection and initiation of instrumental behaviour. For instance, Pavlovian stimuli can act to enhance those actions with which they share an outcome, but not others with which they do not share an outcome, a phenomenon termed outcome-selective Pavlovian-instrumental transfer (PIT). Furthermore, Pavlovian stimuli can invigorate an action by inducing a general appetitive arousal that elevates instrumental responding, a phenomenon termed general PIT. The dorsomedial striatum has been implicated in outcome-selective, but not general PIT. However, the role of dopamine (DA) signals in this subregion in mediating PIT is unknown. Here we examined in rats the effects of a 6-hydroxydopamine-induced DA depletion of the anterior (aDMS) or posterior (pDMS) subregion of the dorsomedial striatum on outcome-selective and general PIT as well as on instrumental performance on a FR-5 schedule (five lever presses earned one pellet). Results demonstrate that aDMS and pDMS DA depletions compromised the rate of responding on a FR-5 schedule, suggesting that DA signals in the dorsomedial striatum are necessary to maintain high rates of instrumental responding. By contrast, aDMS and pDMS DA depletions did not affect general PIT, suggesting that DA signals in the dorsomedial striatum do not mediate general activating effects of reward-predictive stimuli to invigorate instrumental responding. Furthermore, aDMS DA depletions did not impair outcome-selective PIT, while pDMS DA depletions had no or only minor effects. Thus, DA signals in the DMS may not be involved in mediating the specific cueing effects of reward-predictive stimuli.