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Neural encoding of reward seeking in the medial prefrontal cortex

Friday, September 14, 2018 — Poster Session V

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
FAES Terrace


  • G Barbera
  • LF Zhang
  • B Liang
  • Y Li
  • Y Shaham
  • DT Lin


The search for better therapeutic strategies for drug addiction raises the challenge to diminish motivation for drug without decreasing that for natural rewards. While the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is important for reward seeking, how prefrontal neural activities code reward seeking remains unknown. Here, we employed miniScope, a custom miniature fluorescence imaging system, together with detailed computational analysis, to simultaneously track calcium activities from hundreds of neurons longitudinally, at the single cell resolution in the mPFC during mice food and cocaine self-administration. We found that different subgroups of neurons showed increased activity around distinct behavioral events (i.e. house light on, lever extend into behavior chamber, lever press/cue presentation, and food retrieval). More neurons were active during lever press/cue presentation and food retrieval. We further observed that distinct subsets of neurons were active during lever press/cue presentation for food and cocaine, respectively. Our results suggest distinct and dynamic neural population codes for natural reward and drug reward seeking in the mPFC and pave the way for future efforts in targeting specific neural codes for drug reward seeking as novel therapeutic strategies for drug addiction.

Category: Neuroscience