Noradrenergic signaling in the medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala differentially regulates vicarious trial-and-error in a spatial decision-making task.

Abstract

In uncertain choice situations, we deliberately search and evaluate possible options before taking an action. Once we form a preference regarding the current situation, we take an action more automatically and with less deliberation. In rats, the deliberation process can be seen in vicarious trial-and-error behavior (VTE), which is a head-orienting behavior toward options at a choice point. Recent neurophysiological findings suggest that VTE reflects the rat's thinking about future options as deliberation, expectation, and planning when rats feel conflict. VTE occurs depending on the demand: an increase occurs during initial learning, and a decrease occurs with progression in learning. However, the brain circuit underlying the regulation of VTE has not been thoroughly examined. In situations in which VTE often appears, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the amygdala (AMY) are crucial for learning and decision making. Our previous study reported that noradrenaline regulates VTE. Here, to investigate whether the mPFC and AMY are involved in regulation of VTE, we examined the effects of local injection of clonidine, an alpha2 adrenergic autoreceptor agonist, into either region in rats during VTE and choice behavior during a T-maze choice task. Injection of clonidine into either region impaired selection of the advantageous choice in the task. Furthermore, clonidine injection into the mPFC suppressed occurrence of VTE in the early phase of the task, whereas injection into the AMY inhibited the decrease in VTE in the later phase and thus maintained a high level of VTE throughout the task. These results suggest that the mPFC and AMY play a role in the increase and decrease in VTE, respectively, and that noradrenergic mechanisms mediate the dynamic regulation of VTE over experiences.

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.09.002

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Cite this paper

@article{Amemiya2016NoradrenergicSI, title={Noradrenergic signaling in the medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala differentially regulates vicarious trial-and-error in a spatial decision-making task.}, author={Seiichiro Amemiya and Natsuko Kubota and Nao Umeyama and Takeshi Nishijima and Ichiro Kita}, journal={Behavioural brain research}, year={2016}, volume={297}, pages={104-11} }