Considerable evidence has demonstrated a critical role for the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in the acquisition and flexibility of behavioral strategies. These processes are guided by the activity of two discrete neuron types, dopamine D1- or D2-receptor expressing medium spiny neurons (D1-/D2-MSNs). Here we used the IntelliCage, an automated group-housing experimental cage apparatus, in combination with a reversible neurotransmission blocking technique to examine the role of NAc D1- and D2-MSNs in the acquisition and reversal learning of a place discrimination task. We demonstrated that NAc D1- and D2-MSNs do not mediate the acquisition of the task, but that suppression of activity in D2-MSNs impairs reversal learning and increased perseverative errors. Additionally, global knockout of the dopamine D2L receptor isoform produced a similar behavioral phenotype to D2-MSN-blocked mice. These results suggest that D2L receptors and NAc D2-MSNs act to suppress the influence of previously correct behavioral strategies allowing transfer of behavioral control to new strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience