A binary mosaic in the striatum to reshape goal-directed learning

An intriguing characteristic of the striatum is the random spatial distribution and high degree of intermingling between expression of dopamine receptor types 1 (D1) and 2 (D2) within striatal projection neurons (SPNs). The resulting highly entropic mosaic extends through a homogeneous space and is mostly devoid of histological boundaries. The rules established locally by D1- and D2-expressing SPNs (D1-SPNs and D2-SPNs) are thus likely critical in defining how functional territories develop throughout the striatum. In this study we found that activated D2-SPNs access and modify developing behavioral programs encoded by regionally defined ensembles of transcriptionally active D1-SPNs. This process is slow because it depends on the molecular integration of additive neuro-modulatory signals. However, with time, it creates the regional functional boundaries that are necessary to identify and shape specific learning in the striatum.

Matamales M, McGovern AE, Mi JD, Mazzone SB, Balleine BW & Bertran-Gonzalez J (2020) Local D2- to D1-neuron transmodulation updates goal-directed learning in the striatum. Science. 2020;367(6477):549–555. [Journal Article]

eLife Online Research Talk

Miriam was selected to present this work at a webinar series organised by eLife during the COVID-19 pandemic. This webinar was in partnership with neuromatch, an online conference for computational neuroscience.

GRANT FUNDING
Our work is supported by the Australian Research Council (Project Grant to J. B-G and M. M; Future Fellowship to J. B-G) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (Project Grant to J. B-G and M. M). Click for details

RESEARCH ETHICS & SAFETY
All experimental procedures are approved by the Animal Care and Ethics Commitee and the Gene Technology Research Commitee at UNSW.

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