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operant conditioning [keywords]
- Social defeat in adolescent mice increases vulnerability to alcohol consumption. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Addict Biol 2014 Sep 14.
This study employs an oral operant conditioning paradigm to evaluate the effects of repeated social defeat during adolescence on the reinforcing and motivational actions of ethanol in adult OF1 mice. Social interaction, emotional and cognitive behavioral aspects were also analyzed, and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) experiments were performed to study gene expression changes in the mesocorticolimbic and hypothalamus-hypophysis-adrenal (HHA) axis. Social defeat did not alter anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze or cognitive performance in the passive avoidance and Hebb-Williams tests. A social interaction test revealed depression-like symptoms and social subordination behavior in defeated OF1 mice. Interestingly, social defeat in adolescence significantly increased the number of effective responses, ethanol consumption values and motivation to drink. Finally, real-time PCR analyses revealed that social defeat significantly increased tyrosine hydroxylase and corticotropin-releasing hormone in the ventral tegmental area and paraventricular nucleus, respectively. In contrast, mu-opioid receptor gene expression was decreased in the nucleus accumbens of socially defeated mice. In summary, these findings suggest that exposure to social defeat during adolescence increases vulnerability to the rewarding effects of ethanol without affecting emotional or cognitive performance. The gene expression alterations we have observed in the mesocorticolimbic and HHA axis systems of defeated mice could be related with their increased ethanol consumption. These results endorse future research into pharmacological strategies that modulate these systems for the treatment of social stress-related alcohol consumption problems.
- The effect of probability discounting on reward seeking: a three-dimensional perspective. [Journal Article]
- Front Behav Neurosci 2014.:284.
Rats will work for electrical stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle. The rewarding effect arises from the volleys of action potentials fired by the stimulation and subsequent spatio-temporal integration of their post-synpatic impact. The proportion of time allocated to self-stimulation depends on the intensity of the rewarding effect as well as on other key determinants of decision-making, such as subjective opportunity costs and reward probability. We have proposed that a 3D model relating time allocation to the intensity and cost of reward can distinguish manipulations acting prior to the output of the spatio-temporal integrator from those acting at or beyond it. Here, we test this proposition by varying reward probability, a variable that influences the computation of payoff in the 3D model downstream from the output of the integrator. On riskless trials, reward was delivered on every occasion that the rat held down the lever for a cumulative duration called the "price," whereas on risky trials, reward was delivered with probability 0.75 or 0.50. According to the model, the 3D structure relating time allocation to reward intensity and price is shifted leftward along the price axis by reductions in reward probability; the magnitude of the shift estimates the change in subjective probability. The predictions were borne out: reducing reward probability shifted the 3D structure systematically along the price axis while producing only small, inconsistent displacements along the pulse-frequency axis. The results confirm that the model can accurately distinguish manipulations acting at or beyond the spatio-temporal integrator and strengthen the conclusions of previous studies showing similar shifts following dopaminergic manipulations. Subjective and objective reward probabilities appeared indistinguishable over the range of 0.5 ≤ p ≤ 1.0.
- Operant self-administration of ethanol in infant rats. [REVIEW]
- Physiol Behav 2014 Aug 30.
The review focuses on operant self-administration of ethanol in immature, infant rats. Several methods for the analysis of ethanol intake in infants are available, yet only oral self-administration models the typical pattern of ethanol consumption found in humans. The study of ethanol intake in infants is important for our understanding of how early alcohol experiences facilitate subsequent engagement with alcohol. It seems that sensitivity to ethanol-induced operant reinforcement is found very early in life, a few hours after birth, and throughout the first three weeks of life. Most of the studies reviewed complied with most, albeit not all, of the criteria for operant behavior (e.g., greater responding than yoked controls and persistence of this difference after withholding the reinforcer). Operant self-administration of ethanol in infant rats seems to be, at least partially, mediated by endogenous opioid transmission and can be enhanced by prior exposure to ethanol. Furthermore, acquisition of ethanol-mediated operant learning seems to facilitate drug self-administration during adolescence. Relative to older subjects, infants exhibit lower sensitivity to ethanol's sedative, hypnotic and motor impairing effects. On the other hand, they exhibit increased sensitivity to the motor stimulant and rewarding effects of ethanol. We suggest that this pattern of response to ethanol may favor the rapid acquisition of operant self-administration in infant rats.
- Dynamic shaping of dopamine signals during probabilistic Pavlovian conditioning. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Neurobiol Learn Mem 2014 Aug 26.
Cue- and reward-evoked phasic dopamine activity during Pavlovian and operant conditioning paradigms is well correlated with reward-prediction errors from formal reinforcement learning models, which feature teaching signals in the form of discrepancies between actual and expected reward outcomes. Additionally, in learning tasks where conditioned cues probabilistically predict rewards, dopamine neurons show sustained cue-evoked responses that are correlated with the variance of reward and are maximal to cues predicting rewards with a probability of 0.5. Therefore, it has been suggested that sustained dopamine activity after cue presentation encodes the uncertainty of impending reward delivery. In the current study we examined the acquisition and maintenance of these neural correlates using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry in rats implanted with carbon fiber electrodes in the nucleus accumbens core during probabilistic Pavlovian conditioning. The advantage of this technique is that we can sample from the same animal and recording location throughout learning with single trial resolution. We report that dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens core contains correlates of both expected value and variance. A quantitative analysis of these signals throughout learning, and during the ongoing updating process after learning in probabilistic conditions, demonstrates that these correlates are dynamically encoded during these phases. Peak CS-evoked responses are correlated with expected value and predominate during early learning while a variance-correlated sustained CS signal develops during the post-asymptotic updating phase.
- Knockdown of CRF1 Receptors in the Ventral Tegmental Area Attenuates Cue- and Acute Food Deprivation Stress-Induced Cocaine Seeking in Mice. [Journal Article]
- J Neurosci 2014 Aug 27; 34(35):11560-70.
Corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) modulates the influence of stress on cocaine reward and reward seeking acting at multiple sites, including the ventral tegmental area (VTA). There is controversy, however, concerning the contribution of CRF receptor type 1 (CRFR1) to this effect and whether CRF within the VTA is involved in other aspects of reward seeking independent of acute stress. Here we examine the role of CRFR1 within the VTA in relation to cocaine and natural reward using viral delivery of short hairpin RNAs (lenti-shCRFR1) and investigate the effect on operant self-administration and motivation to self-administer, as well as stress- and cue-induced reward seeking in mice. While knockdown of CRFR1 in the VTA had no effect on self-administration behavior for either cocaine or sucrose, it effectively blocked acute food deprivation stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking. We also observed reduced cue-induced cocaine seeking assessed in a single extinction session after extended abstinence, but cue-induced sucrose seeking was unaffected, suggesting dissociation between the contribution of CRFR1 in the VTA in cocaine reward and sucrose and cocaine seeking. Further, our data indicate a role for VTA CRFR1 signaling in cocaine seeking associated with, and independent of, stress potentially involving conditioning and/or salience attribution of cocaine reward-related cues. CRFR1 signaling in the VTA therefore presents a target for convergent effects of both cue- and stress-induced cocaine-seeking pathways.
- Timbre Influences Chord Discrimination in Black-Capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) but Not Humans (Homo Sapiens). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Comp Psychol 2014 Aug 25.
Timbre is an important attribute of sound both in music and nature. Previously, using an operant conditioning paradigm, we found that black-capped chickadees and humans show similar response patterns in discriminating triadic chords of the same timbre and transferred this discrimination to a novel key center (novel absolute pitch). The current study examined how varying the timbre of the chords influenced discrimination. Using a similar operant conditioning procedure, we trained humans (Experiment 1) and chickadees (Experiments 2 and 3) to discriminate a major chord from 6 other chord types that had semitone deviations from the major chord. The pattern of errors of the 2 species replicated our previous findings. We then tested participants with novel timbres. We found that humans readily transferred their discrimination to novel timbres, suggesting they were attending to triadic pitch relations. The chickadees failed to transfer to novel timbres, suggesting they were using a different strategy to perform the original chord discrimination. We conducted an acoustic analysis examining frequency ranges that are biologically relevant to chickadees. We found that the relative intensity within each chord of the frequencies used in black-capped chickadee song significantly correlated with chickadees' percent response during probe testing. In Experiment 3, we trained a new set of chickadees by including either expanded pitch or timbre training before testing. Although chickadees showed some transfer to novel chords following this expanded training, we found that neither type of expanded training helped the chickadees when probe tested with novel stimuli. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
- Electromyographic analysis of goal-directed grasping behavior in American lobster. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Exp Biol 2014 Aug 21.
Animals spontaneously initiate goal-directed behavior including foraging action based on their appetitive motivation. American lobster Homarus americanus exhibits grasping behavior with its crusher claw as feeding behavior that can be initiated after appropriate operant conditioning. In order to quantitatively characterize the goal-directed grasping behavior with a time resolution fine enough for neurophysiological analysis of its initiation and control mechanisms, we made simultaneous electromyographic (EMG) recording from grasping- and reaching- related muscles of the crusher claw while animals initiated grasping behavior. We developed an in vivo extracellular recording chamber that allowed the animal under a semi-restrained condition to perform operant reward learning of claw grasping. Three muscles in the crusher claw (propodite-dactyl closer/ opener and coxal protractor) were found to be closely associated with spontaneous grasping behavior. In spontaneous grasping, the activation of those muscles consistently preceded the grasping onset time and exhibited different activity patterns from the grasp induced by a mechanical stimulus. Furthermore, we found that the timing of coxal protractor activation was closer to the grasp onset and its activity was briefer for goal-directed grasping behavior in trained and hungry animals than for non goal-directed spontaneous grasping behavior in naive or satiated animals. It is suggested that the goal-directed grasping behavior of lobster is characterized, at least partly, by experience-dependent briefer activity of specific muscles involved in reaching action.
- PERSISTENT BENEFICIAL IMPACT OF H-REFLEX CONDITIONING IN SPINAL CORD-INJURED RATS. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Neurophysiol 2014 Aug 20.
Operant conditioning of a spinal cord reflex can improve locomotion in rats and humans with incomplete spinal cord injury. This study examined the persistence of its beneficial effects. In rats in which a right lateral column contusion injury had produced asymmetrical locomotion, up-conditioning of the right soleus H-reflex eliminated the asymmetry while down-conditioning had no effect. After the 50-day conditioning period ended, the H-reflex was monitored for 100(±9SD) (range 79-108) more days and locomotion was then reevaluated. After conditioning ended in up-conditioned rats, the H-reflex continued to increase, and locomotion continued to improve. In down-conditioned rats, the H-reflex decrease gradually disappeared after conditioning ended, and locomotion at the end of data collection remained as impaired as it had been before and immediately after down-conditioning. The persistence (and further progression) of H-reflex increase but not H-reflex decrease in these spinal cord-injured rats is consistent with the fact that up-conditioning improved their locomotion while down-conditioning did not. That is, even after up-conditioning ended, the up-conditioned H-reflex pathway remained adaptive because it improved locomotion. The persistence and further enhancement of the locomotor improvement indicates that spinal reflex conditioning protocols might supplement current therapies and enhance neurorehabilitation. They may be especially useful when significant spinal cord regeneration becomes possible, and precise methods for re-training the regenerated spinal cord are needed.
- Predators in training: operant conditioning of novel behavior in wild Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivitattus). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Anim Cogn 2014 Aug 20.
Large pythons and boas comprise a group of animals whose anatomy and physiology are very different from traditional mammalian, avian and other reptilian models typically used in operant conditioning. In the current study, investigators used a modified shaping procedure involving successive approximations to train wild Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivitattus) to approach and depress an illuminated push button in order to gain access to a food reward. Results show that these large, wild snakes can be trained to accept extremely small food items, associate a stimulus with such rewards via operant conditioning and perform a contingent operant response to gain access to a food reward. The shaping procedure produced robust responses and provides a mechanism for investigating complex behavioral phenomena in massive snakes that are rarely studied in learning research.
- Operant conditioning: a minimal components requirement in artificial spiking neurons designed for bio-inspired robot's controller. [Journal Article]
- Front Neurorobot 2014.:21.
In this paper, we investigate the operant conditioning (OC) learning process within a bio-inspired paradigm, using artificial spiking neural networks (ASNN) to act as robot brain controllers. In biological agents, OC results in behavioral changes learned from the consequences of previous actions, based on progressive prediction adjustment from rewarding or punishing signals. In a neurorobotics context, virtual and physical autonomous robots may benefit from a similar learning skill when facing unknown and unsupervised environments. In this work, we demonstrate that a simple invariant micro-circuit can sustain OC in multiple learning scenarios. The motivation for this new OC implementation model stems from the relatively complex alternatives that have been described in the computational literature and recent advances in neurobiology. Our elementary kernel includes only a few crucial neurons, synaptic links and originally from the integration of habituation and spike-timing dependent plasticity as learning rules. Using several tasks of incremental complexity, our results show that a minimal neural component set is sufficient to realize many OC procedures. Hence, with the proposed OC module, designing learning tasks with an ASNN and a bio-inspired robot context leads to simpler neural architectures for achieving complex behaviors.