Activation of medial hypothalamic orexin neurons during a Go/No-Go task

Linnea R. Freeman, Gary Aston-Jones

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1 Scopus citations


Orexin neurons (Orx; also referred to as hypocretin) are found exclusively in the hypothalamus, and release the neuropeptides orexin A and orexin B (also referred to as hypocretin 1 and 2) throughout the CNS. With its widespread targets, the orexin system is involved in a number of functions including, but not limited to stress, reward, wakefulness, and food seeking. Our laboratory has previously proposed that the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) and perifornical (PFA) orexin neurons function in stress and arousal whereas those in lateral hypothalamus (LH) participate in reward processes (Harris and Aston-Jones, 2006). In the current study, we compared Fos activation in orexin neurons located in medial hypothalamus (DMH and PFA) to those in LH during a Go/No-Go task for a highly palatable food reward, a task that would likely activate regions for arousal/attention as well as reward. The Go/No-Go paradigm is a useful behavioral tool to measure behavioral inhibition, impulsivity, learning, and reaction time. Our results revealed increased activation of medial hypothalamic orexin neurons correlated with greater accuracy on the Go/No-Go task. No correlation was found between Go/No-Go accuracy and activation of lateral hypothalamic orexin neurons. This study supports a functional dichotomy of medial vs lateral orexin neurons, and indicates a role for medial orexin neurons in behavioral performance that requires response inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145928
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Mar 15 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Go/No-Go
  • Orexin
  • Palatable food
  • Response inhibition
  • Reward

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