Phasic nucleus accumbens dopamine encodes risk-based decision making behavior Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Sugam, Jonathan Adam
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • When deciding to act organisms must correctly evaluate the costs and benefits of action selection in order to optimize resources. Several factors influence the evaluation of reward value including the behavioral cost, the delay to, probability of, and magnitude of reinforcement. Dopamine (DA) transmission within the nucleus accumbens (NAc) has been implicated in reward learning and value-based decision making. The mesolimbic DA system has been shown to encode information about explicit value associated with behavioral performance that biases responses towards the most valuable options available; however it is unclear whether subjective value associated with risk-taking behavior is encoded by DA release. Here, phasic DA release in the NAc was monitored using fast scan cyclic voltammetry during a risk-based decision making task in which visual cues predicted the opportunity to respond for small certain or larger uncertain rewards. Reward predictive cues evoked increases in DA concentration in the NAc core that scaled with each animal's preferred reward contingency. Further, DA signaling in the NAc core tracked the unexpected presentation or omission of rewards following prediction error theory. Similar processing was not observed in the NAc shell. These results suggest that the dopaminergic projections to the NAc core encode the subjective value of future rewards that may function to optimize choices during decision making and risk-taking behavior.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Department of Psychology."
  • Carelli, Regina
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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