Orbitofrontal cortex and amygdalar over-activity is associated with an inability to use the value of expected outcomes to guide behaviour in serotonin transporter knockout rats.

Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Centre for Neuroscience, Dept. of Cognitive Neuroscience, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Geert Grooteplein 21, 6525 GA Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (Impact Factor: 4.04). 04/2010; 94(1):65-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2010.04.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A disturbance in 5-HT signalling can lead to maladaptive and disruptive behavioural changes seen in neuropsychiatric disorders, potentially by 5-HT's role in cognitive control over behaviour. 5-HT levels are tightly controlled by the serotonin transporter (5-HTT). We and others have observed that 5-HTT availability affects reversal learning. Here we investigated the role of 5-HT in another type of cognitive control, which is the ability to use the value of expected outcomes to guide behaviour. 5-HTT knockout (5-HTT(-/-)) rats and wild-type (5-HTT(+/+)) controls were subjected to a Pavlovian reinforcer devaluation paradigm, which assesses the ability of an appetitive conditioned stimulus (CS) to gain access to the motivational properties of an upcoming aversive unconditioned stimulus (US). Neural correlates were evaluated using c-Fos immunohistochemistry, in brains of animals sacrificed 90min following the start of the probe test. Results show that conditioned responding was decreased in 5-HTT(+/+), but not 5-HTT(-/-), rats after US devaluation. In addition, OFC and basolateral amygdala (BLA) c-Fos immunoreactivity was increased in non-devalued 5-HTT(-/-) rats compared to non-devalued 5-HTT(+/+) rats. Whereas US devaluation increased c-Fos immunoreactivity in the OFC and BLA of 5-HTT(+/+) rats, there was no further increase in c-Fos immunoreactivity in the OFC and BLA of 5-HTT(-/-) rats. Taken together, 5-HTT(-/-) rats are unable to use the value of expected outcomes to guide behaviour, potentially due to over-activity of the OFC and BLA. Our findings suggest a new modulatory role of 5-HT in cognitive control over behaviour, which may have important implications for psychopathologies, like anxiety disorders and addiction.

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