Bidirectional Modulation of Goal-Directed Actions by Prefrontal Cortical Dopamine

Department of Psychiatry, Division of Molecular Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06508, USA.
Cerebral Cortex (Impact Factor: 8.67). 01/2008; 17(12):2820-7. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhm010
Source: PubMed


Instrumental actions are a vital cognitive asset that endows an organism with sensitivity to the consequences of its behavior. Response-outcome feedback allows responding to be shaped in order to maximize beneficial, and minimize detrimental, outcomes. Lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) result in behavior that is insensitive to changes in outcome value in animals and compulsive behavior in several human psychopathologies. Such insensitivity to changes in outcome value is a defining characteristic of instrumental habits: responses that are controlled by antecedent stimuli rather than goal expectancy. Little is known regarding the neurochemical substrates mediating this sensitivity. The present experiments used sensitivity to posttraining outcome devaluation to index the action-habit status of instrumental responding. Infusions of dopamine into the ventral mPFC (vmPFC), but not dorsal mPFC, restored outcome sensitivity bidirectionally-decreasing responding following outcome devaluation and increasing responding when the outcome was not devalued. This bidirectionality makes the possibility that these infusions nonspecifically dysregulated vmPFC dopamine transmission unlikely. VmPFC dopamine promoted instrumental responding appropriate to outcome value. Reinforcer consumption data indicated that this was not a consequence of altered sensitivity to the reinforcer itself. We suggest that vmPFC dopamine reengages attentional processes underlying goal-directed behavior.

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Available from: Paul K Hitchcott, Feb 23, 2015
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    • "DA release in mOFC, vmPFC as well as dACC is important in reinforcement learning in the human brain, as a PET study measuring dopamine during a reward learning task demonstrated (Vrieze et al., 2013). DA infusions into vmPFC of rats influenced outcome sensitivity (Hitchcott et al., 2007), suggesting that the dopaminergic system in vmPFC has a role in response choices. In line with these findings, local infusion of both D1 or D2 antagonists into rat vmPFC impaired fear extinction (Mueller et al., 2010; Fiorenza et al., 2012). "
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    • "On the one hand, the association of the medial PFC volume with general fluid intelligence is broadly consistent with several structural imaging studies of intelligence in healthy populations, which found a correlation between general fluid intelligence and GM signal in the medial PFC [Frangou et al., 2004; Goh et al., 2011; Gong et al., 2005; Haier et al., 2004; Ull en et al., 2008; Wilke et al., 2003]. Previous studies have demonstrated the medial PFC participates in several higher order functions including selective attention, response selection, reasoning, decision making and goaldirected behaviors [Dalley et al., 2004; Hitchcott et al., 2007; Kroger et al., 2002; Rushworth et al., 2004]. All these kind of functions seem to play an important role in approaching and solving the tasks in the standard tests of human intelligence. "
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