A neural substrate of sex-dependent modulation of motivation

Julia Cox, Adelaide R. Minerva, Weston T. Fleming, Christopher A. Zimmerman, Cameron Hayes, Samuel Zorowitz, Akhil Bandi, Sharon Ornelas, Brenna McMannon, Nathan F. Parker, Ilana B. Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


While there is emerging evidence of sex differences in decision-making behavior, the neural substrates that underlie such differences remain largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that in mice performing a value-based decision-making task, while choices are similar between the sexes, motivation to engage in the task is modulated by action value more strongly in females than in males. Inhibition of activity in anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) neurons that project to the dorsomedial striatum (DMS) preferentially disrupts this relationship between value and motivation in females, without affecting choice in either sex. In line with these effects, in females compared to males, ACC–DMS neurons have stronger representations of negative outcomes and more neurons are active when the value of the chosen option is low. By contrast, the representation of each choice is similar between the sexes. Thus, we identify a neural substrate that contributes to sex-specific modulation of motivation by value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-284
Number of pages11
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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