Mesolimbic Dopamine Encodes Prediction Errors in a State-Dependent Manner.
Papageorgiou GK., Baudonnat M., Cucca F., Walton ME.
Mesolimbic dopamine encodes the benefits of a course of action. However, the value of an appetitive reward depends strongly on an animal's current state. To investigate the relationship between dopamine, value, and physiological state, we monitored sub-second dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens core while rats made choices between food and sucrose solution following selective satiation on one of these reinforcers. Dopamine signals reflected preference for the reinforcers in the new state, decreasing to the devalued reward and, after satiation on food, increasing for the valued sucrose solution. These changes were rapid and selective, with dopamine release returning to pre-satiation patterns when the animals were re-tested in a standard food-restricted state. Such rapid and selective adaptation of dopamine-associated value signals could provide an important signal to promote efficient foraging for a varied diet.