Dorsal Hippocampus To Nucleus Accumbens Projections Drive Reinforcement Via Activation of Accumbal Dynorphin Neurons
SUMMARYThe hippocampus represents a key structure in the integration of emotional processing, learning and memory, and reward-related behaviors. While the ventral subdivision of the hippocampus (vHPC) is involved in processing emotional values of salient stimuli and goal-directed behaviors, the dorsal hippocampus (dHPC) plays a critical role in episodic, spatial, and associative memory. In addition, it has been shown that the dHPC is necessary for context- and cue-associated reward behaviors,
... cluding the expression of reward seeking. The nucleus accumbens (NAc), a central structure in the mesolimbic reward pathway, integrates the salience of aversive and rewarding stimuli and its activity is sufficient to drive aversive and appetitive behaviors. Recent evidence has demonstrated that dHPC→Nucleus Accumbens (NAc) pathway is necessary for expression of a conditioned place preference. However, despite years of groundbreaking research and identification of direct projections from the dHPC to the NAc, the sufficiency for dHPC→NAC inputs to drive reinforcement and reward associated behavior remains to be determined.Here using a wide range of complementary and cutting-edge techniques including behavior, in-vivo manipulation using optogenetics, chemogenetics, brain clearing, local field potential and fiber photometry recordings, we demonstrate that activation of excitatory projections from the CA1 subregion of the dHPC (dCA1) is sufficient to drive reinforcing behaviors. In addition, we provide strong evidence that this reinforcing behavior is driven by 1) a direct projection from the dCA1 to the NAc and 2) enhanced glutamatergic signaling within the NAc. Furthermore, we uncovered that while dCA1 stimulation increases the activity of both enkephalin- and dynorphin-containing medium spiny neurons in the NAc, the selective activity of dynorphin-containing neurons is necessary for the expression of this reinforcing behavior. Our findings shed light on a novel pathway governing reinforcement and further extend the role of the dHPC on reward seeking.