A Comparison of Dopaminergic and Cholinergic Populations Reveals Unique Contributions of VTA Dopamine Neurons to Short-Term Memory

Jung Yoon Choi, Hee Jae Jang, Sharon Ornelas, Weston T. Fleming, Daniel Fürth, Jennifer Au, Akhil Bandi, Esteban A. Engel, Ilana B. Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

We systematically compare the contributions of two dopaminergic and two cholinergic ascending populations to a spatial short-term memory task in rats. In ventral tegmental area dopamine (VTA-DA) and nucleus basalis cholinergic (NB-ChAT) populations, trial-by-trial fluctuations in activity during the delay period relate to performance with an inverted-U, despite the fact that both populations have low activity during that time. Transient manipulations reveal that only VTA-DA neurons, and not the other three populations we examine, contribute causally and selectively to short-term memory. This contribution is most significant during the delay period, when both increases and decreases in VTA-DA activity impair short-term memory. Our results reveal a surprising dissociation between when VTA-DA neurons are most active and when they have the biggest causal contribution to short-term memory, and they also provide support for classic ideas about an inverted-U relationship between neuromodulation and cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108492
JournalCell Reports
Volume33
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 15 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Keywords

  • Inverted-U
  • Medial septum
  • Neuromodulation
  • Nucleus basalis
  • SNc
  • Short-term memory
  • VTA
  • Working memory
  • acetylcholine
  • dopamine

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