Coordinated ramping of dorsal striatal pathways preceding food approach and consumption

Tanisha D. London, Julia A. Licholai, Ilona Szczot, Mohamed A. Ali, Kimberly H. Le Blanc, Wambura C. Fobbs, Alexxai V. Kravitz

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32 Scopus citations


The striatum controls food-related actions and consumption and is linked to feeding disorders, including obesity and anorexia nervosa. Two populations of neurons project from the striatum: direct pathway medium spiny neurons and indirect pathway medium spiny neurons. The selective contribution of direct pathway medium spiny neurons and indirect pathway medium spiny neurons to foodrelated actions and consumption remains unknown. Here, we used in vivo electrophysiology and fiber photometry in mice (of both sexes) to record both spiking activity and pathway-specific calcium activity of dorsal striatal neurons during approach to and consumption of food pellets. While electrophysiology revealed complex task-related dynamics across neurons, population calcium was enhanced during approach and inhibited during consumption in both pathways. We also observed ramping changes in activity that preceded both pellet-directed actions and spontaneous movements. These signals were heterogeneous in the spiking units, with neurons exhibiting either increasing or decreasing ramps. In contrast, the population calcium signals were homogeneous, with both pathways having increasing ramps of activity for several seconds before actions were initiated.Ananalysis comparing population firing rates to population calcium signals also revealed stronger ramping dynamics in the calcium signals than in the spiking data. In a second experiment, we trained the mice to perform an action sequence to evaluate when the ramping signals terminated. We found that the ramping signals terminated at the beginning of the action sequence, suggesting they may reflect upcoming actions and not preconsumption activity. Plasticity of such mechanisms may underlie disorders that alter action selection, such as drug addiction or obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3547-3558
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 4 2018


  • Accumbens
  • Basal ganglia
  • Electrophysiology
  • Feeding
  • Reward
  • Striatum


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