Download the Free Unbound MEDLINE PubMed App to your smartphone or tablet.
Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android.
operant conditioning [keywords]
- 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.
- Bidirectional control of a one-dimensional robotic actuator by operant conditioning of a single unit in rat motor cortex. [Journal Article]
- Front Neurosci 2014.:206.
The design of efficient neuroprosthetic devices has become a major challenge for the long-term goal of restoring autonomy to motor-impaired patients. One approach for brain control of actuators consists in decoding the activity pattern obtained by simultaneously recording large neuronal ensembles in order to predict in real-time the subject's intention, and move the prosthesis accordingly. An alternative way is to assign the output of one or a few neurons by operant conditioning to control the prosthesis with rules defined by the experimenter, and rely on the functional adaptation of these neurons during learning to reach the desired behavioral outcome. Here, several motor cortex neurons were recorded simultaneously in head-fixed awake rats and were conditioned, one at a time, to modulate their firing rate up and down in order to control the speed and direction of a one-dimensional actuator carrying a water bottle. The goal was to maintain the bottle in front of the rat's mouth, allowing it to drink. After learning, all conditioned neurons modulated their firing rate, effectively controlling the bottle position so that the drinking time was increased relative to chance. The mean firing rate averaged over all bottle trajectories depended non-linearly on position, so that the mouth position operated as an attractor. Some modifications of mean firing rate were observed in the surrounding neurons, but to a lesser extent. Notably, the conditioned neuron reacted faster and led to a better control than surrounding neurons, as calculated by using the activity of those neurons to generate simulated bottle trajectories. Our study demonstrates the feasibility, even in the rodent, of using a motor cortex neuron to control a prosthesis in real-time bidirectionally. The learning process includes modifications of the activity of neighboring cortical neurons, while the conditioned neuron selectively leads the activity patterns associated with the prosthesis control.
- Effects of Withania somnifera on oral ethanol self-administration in rats. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Behav Pharmacol 2014 Aug 11.
Recent evidence has shown that Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng), a herbal remedy used in traditional medicine, impairs morphine-elicited place conditioning. Here, we investigated the effect of W. somnifera roots extract (WSE) on motivation for drinking ethanol using operant self-administration paradigms. Wistar rats were trained to self-administer ethanol (10%) by nose-poking. The effects of WSE (25-75 mg/kg) were evaluated on acquisition and maintenance, on ethanol breakpoint under a progressive-ratio schedule of reinforcement and on the deprivation effect and reinstatement of seeking behaviours. Moreover, on the basis of the recent suggestion of an involvement of GABAB receptors in WSE central effects, we studied the interaction between WSE and GABAB ligands. The effect of WSE on saccharin (0.05%) oral self-administration was also tested. The results show that WSE reduced the acquisition, maintenance and breakpoint of ethanol self-administration. WSE also reduced the deprivation effect, reinstatement of ethanol-seeking behaviours and saccharin reinforcement. Furthermore, the GABAB receptor antagonist, phaclofen, counteracted the ability of WSE to impair the maintenance of ethanol self-administration. These findings show that WSE, by an action that may involve GABAB receptors, impairs motivation for drinking ethanol and suggest that further investigations should be performed to determine whether W. somnifera may represent a new approach for the management of alcohol abuse.
- Cocaine self-administration in social dyads using custom-built operant conditioning chambers. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Neurosci Methods 2014 Aug 7.:11-18.
Traditionally, the analysis of intravenous drug self-administration is limited to conditions in which subjects are tested in isolation. This limits the translational appeal of these studies because drug use in humans often occurs in the presence of others.We used custom-built operant conditioning chambers that allowed social dyads visual, olfactory, auditory, and limited tactile contact while concurrently self-administering cocaine. Male rats were trained to respond according to a fixed interval schedule of reinforcement (with a limited hold) in order to determine if patterns of cocaine (0.75mg/kg/infusion) self-administration became more similar over time in social pairs. Cocaine self-administration was tested across five days according to a 10-min fixed interval schedule (with a 5-min limited hold). Quarter-life values (time at which 25% of responses were emitted per interval) were analyzed using intraclass correlations.The total number of reinforcers obtained did not vary across the five days of testing; however, quarter-life values became progressively more similar between individuals within the social dyads.Standard operant conditioning chambers are unable to assess responding in multiple animals due to their small size, the need to prevent subjects from responding on the lever of their partner, and the need to prevent infusion lines from entangling. By using custom-built social operant conditioning chambers, we assessed the effects of social contact on cocaine self-administration.Social operant conditioning chambers can be used as a preclinical method to examine social influences on drug self-administration under conditions that approximate human substance use.
- DWI and complex brain network analysis predicts vascular cognitive impairment in spontaneous hypertensive rats undergoing executive function tests. [Journal Article]
- Front Aging Neurosci 2014.:167.
The identification of biomarkers of vascular cognitive impairment is urgent for its early diagnosis. The aim of this study was to detect and monitor changes in brain structure and connectivity, and to correlate them with the decline in executive function. We examined the feasibility of early diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to predict cognitive impairment before onset in an animal model of chronic hypertension: Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Cognitive performance was tested in an operant conditioning paradigm that evaluated learning, memory, and behavioral flexibility skills. Behavioral tests were coupled with longitudinal diffusion weighted imaging acquired with 126 diffusion gradient directions and 0.3 mm(3) isometric resolution at 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, and 40 weeks after birth. Diffusion weighted imaging was analyzed in two different ways, by regional characterization of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) indices, and by assessing changes in structural brain network organization based on Q-Ball tractography. Already at the first evaluated times, DTI scalar maps revealed significant differences in many regions, suggesting loss of integrity in white and gray matter of spontaneously hypertensive rats when compared to normotensive control rats. In addition, graph theory analysis of the structural brain network demonstrated a significant decrease of hierarchical modularity, global and local efficacy, with predictive value as shown by regional three-fold cross validation study. Moreover, these decreases were significantly correlated with the behavioral performance deficits observed at subsequent time points, suggesting that the diffusion weighted imaging and connectivity studies can unravel neuroimaging alterations even overt signs of cognitive impairment become apparent.