Featured Research Papers - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Skip Navigation

Featured Research Papers

A figure from this month's paper.

Featured Paper Archives
Featured paper of the Month!

January's Featured Paper!

Pontomesencephalic Tegmental Afferents to VTA Non-dopamine Neurons Are Necessary for Appetitive Pavlovian Learning

Cell Rep. 2016 Sep 6;16(10):2699-710. Epub 2016 Aug 25.

Yau HJ, Wang DV, Tsou JH, Chuang YF, Chen BT, Deisseroth K, Ikemoto S, Bonci A.

The ventral tegmental area (VTA) receives phenotypically distinct innervations from the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPTg). While PPTg-to-VTA inputs are thought to play a critical role in stimulus-reward learning, direct evidence linking PPTg-to-VTA phenotypically distinct inputs in the learning process remains lacking. Here, we used optogenetic approaches to investigate the functional contribution of PPTg excitatory and inhibitory inputs to the VTA in appetitive Pavlovian conditioning. We show that photoinhibition of PPTg-to-VTA cholinergic or glutamatergic inputs during cue presentation dampens the development of anticipatory approach responding to the food receptacle during the cue. Furthermore, we employed in vivo optetrode recordings to show that photoinhibition of PPTg cholinergic or glutamatergic inputs significantly decreases VTA non-dopamine (non-DA) neural activity. Consistently, photoinhibition of VTA non-DA neurons disrupts the development of cue-elicited anticipatory approach responding. Taken together, our study reveals a crucial regulatory mechanism by PPTg excitatory inputs onto VTA non-DA neurons during appetitive Pavlovian conditioning.

You can read more about this paper at the website for PubMed.

Related Information...

IRP Training Opportunities...


2009 Postbacs
Postdoc, Predoc, Postbac and Summer Student training opportunities available!


2009 Summer Students
Research & Training Program for Under-represented Populations

A figure from this paper.
A figure from this paper.

Hot off the Press Archives
Hot off the Press paper!

Pathway- and Cell-Specific Kappa-Opioid Receptor Modulation of Excitation-Inhibition Balance Differentially Gates D1 and D2 Accumbens Neuron Activity.

Neuron. 2017 Jan 4;93(1):147-163.

Tejeda HA, Wu J, Kornspun AR, Pignatelli M, Kashtelyan V, Krashes MJ, Lowell BB, Carlezon WA Jr, Bonci A

Endogenous dynorphin signaling via the kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) powerfully mediates negative affective states and stress reactivity. Excitatory inputs from the hippocampus and amygdala play a fundamental role in shaping the activity of both NAcc D1 and D2 MSNs, which encode positive and negative motivational valences, respectively. However, a circuit-based mechanism by which KOR modulation of excitation-inhibition balance modifies D1 and D2 MSN activity is lacking. Here, we provide a comprehensive synaptic framework wherein presynaptic KOR inhibition decreases the excitatory drive of D1 MSN activity by the amygdala, but not the hippocampus. Conversely, presynaptic inhibition by KORs of inhibitory synapses on D2 MSNs enhances integration of excitatory drive by the amygdala and hippocampus. In conclusion, we describe a circuit-based mechanism showing differential gating of afferent control of D1 and D2 MSN activity by KORs in a pathway-specific manner.

More about this paper

Health and Human Services Logo National Institute on Drug Abuse Logo


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

PDF documents require the free Adobe Reader. Microsoft Word documents require the free Microsoft Word viewer. Microsoft PowerPoint documents require the free Microsoft PowerPoint viewer. Flash content requires the free Adobe Flash Player.