Linking context with reward: A functional circuit from hippocampal CA3 to ventral tegmental area

Alice H. Luo, Pouya Tahsili-Fahadan, Roy A. Wise, Carl R. Lupica, Gary Aston-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

225 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reward-motivated behavior is strongly influenced by the learned significance of contextual stimuli in the environment. However, the neural pathways that mediate context-reward relations are not well understood. We have identified a circuit from area CA3 of dorsal hippocampus to ventral tegmental area (VTA) that uses lateral septum (LS) as a relay. Theta frequency stimulation of CA3 excited VTA dopamine (DA) neurons and inhibited non-DA neurons. DA neuron excitation was likely mediated by disinhibition because local antagonism of γ-aminobutyric acid receptors blocked responses to CA3 stimulation. Inactivating components of the CA3-LS-VTA pathway blocked evoked responses in VTA and also reinstatement of cocaine-seeking by contextual stimuli. This transsynaptic link between hippocampus and VTA appears to be an important substrate by which environmental context regulates goal-directed behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-357
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume333
Issue number6040
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 15 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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