October 26, 2020

Distinct temporal difference error signals in dopamine axons in three regions of the striatum in a decision-making task

Different regions of the striatum regulate different types of behavior. However, how dopamine signals differ across striatal regions and how dopamine regulates different behaviors remain unclear. Here, we compared dopamine axon activity in the ventral, dorsomedial, and dorsolateral striatum, while mice performed in a perceptual and value-based decision task. Surprisingly, dopamine axon activity was similar across all three areas. At a glance, the activity multiplexed different variables such as stimulus-associated values, confidence and reward feedback at different phases of the task. Our modeling demonstrates, however, that these modulations can be inclusively explained by moment-by-moment changes in the expected reward, i.e. the temporal difference error. A major difference between these areas was the overall activity level of reward responses: reward responses in dorsolateral striatum (DLS) were positively shifted, lacking inhibitory responses to negative prediction error. Tenets of habit and skill can be explained by this positively biased dopamine signal in DLS.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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