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Open Access Research article

Lesions of the nucleus accumbens core modulate development of matching behavior

Nobuyuki Kai13*, Yuji Tsutsui2 and Kazuto Kobayashi1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Genetics, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine, Fukushima 960-1295, Japan

2 Faculty of Symbiotic Systems Science, Fukushima University, Fukushima 960-1296, Japan

3 Present address; Department of Histology & Neurobiology, Dokkyo Medical University School of Medicine, Tochigi 321-0293, Japan

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BMC Neuroscience 2014, 15:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-55

Published: 30 April 2014

Abstract

Background

The development of choice is a crucial determinant in the performance of appetitive responses. Given two options with different reinforcement rates, animals match their relative rate of responding to the relative rates of reinforcement (i.e., matching behavior). A previous study has shown that the nucleus accumbens core (AcbC) is involved in the performance of matching behavior in trained animals. However, the role of the AcbC in the acquisition of matching behavior has not been addressed.

Results

We conducted a series of experimental sessions to examine the role of the AcbC on the development of matching behavior. Instrumental responding was measured in rats with excitotoxic lesions of the AcbC. Rats were given two options that differed in the relative rate of reinforcement under concurrent variable-interval schedules. The locations of the more frequently reinforced option and the alternative option were randomly switched between sessions. Lesions of the AcbC accelerated the development of matching behavior compared to the sham-operated group. The AcbC-lesioned rats exhibited closer conformity to the matching law than shams when the options were in the same positions as in the previous session (the same condition), but not when the option locations had been switched (the different condition). The AcbC rats showed smaller probabilities of switching behavior between alternatives than shams. Post-reinforcement pausing was not affected by the AcbC lesion. Neither numbers of rewards obtained nor number of lever presses were different between the AcbC-lesioned rats and shams over session blocks.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that the AcbC plays a regulatory role in the development of matching behavior through switching probabilities rather than perception of reward magnitude. The differential effect of AcbC lesions on the matching behavior between the same and different conditions suggests influence of the spontaneous recovery, that is, reversion to a previously reinforced choice at the beginning of the next session, on the development of matching behavior in the AcbC-lesioned rats.

Keywords:
Matching behavior; Nucleus accumbens core; Excitotoxic lesion