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Behavioral Neuroscience - Vol 131, Iss 3

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Behavioral Neuroscience The primary mission of Behavioral Neuroscience is to publish original research papers in the broad field of the biological bases of behavior.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Ensembles in medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex construct cognitive maps emphasizing different features of the behavioral landscape.
    The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has long been implicated in the ability to use the current value of expected outcomes to guide behavior. More recently, this specific role has been conceptualized as a special case of a more general function that OFC plays in constructing a “cognitive map” of the behavioral task space by labeling the current task state and learning relationships among task states. Here, we have used single unit recording data from 2 prior studies to examine whether and how information relating different states within and across trials is represented in medial versus lateral OFC in rats. Using a hierarchical clustering analysis, we examined how neurons from each area represented information about differently valued trial types, defined by the cue–outcome pairings, versus how those same neurons represented information about similar epochs between these different trial types, such as the stimulus sample, delay, and reward consumption epochs. This analysis revealed that ensembles in the lateral OFC (lOFC) group states according to trial epoch, whereas those in the medial OFC (mOFC) organize the same states by trial type. These results suggest that the lOFC and mOFC construct cognitive maps that emphasize different features of the behavioral landscape, with lOFC tracking events based on local similarities, irrespective of their values and mOFC tracking more distal or higher order relationships relevant to value. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Pigeon NCL and NFL neuronal activity represents neural correlates of the sample.
    Four birds were trained on a delayed matching-to-sample task with common outcomes where correct responses during both red and green trials yielded reward. We recorded neuronal activity from the avian nidopallium caudolaterale, the avian equivalent of the mammalian prefrontal cortex, and the avian nidopallium frontolaterale, a higher-order visual processing region. In both regions we found sustained activity during the delay period of both red and green trials. These findings provide the first evidence that delay activity in the pigeon’s nidopallium caudolaterale and nidopallium frontolaterale represent a neural correlate for the to-be-remembered sample stimulus. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Perceptual and memory inhibition deficits in clinically healthy older adults are associated with region-specific, doubly dissociable patterns of cortical thinning.
    Converging evidence suggests that the cognitive control processes that enable the inhibition of irrelevant information on a perceptual versus a memorial basis are qualitatively different and are underlain by unique neural systems that may be affected differentially in aging. In the current study, we investigated whether individual differences in performance on these 2 types of inhibitory processes were attributable to region-specific patterns of cortical thinning. Clinically healthy older adults completed a pair of behavioral memory and perceptual inhibition tasks and then underwent structural brain imaging. We found that worse memory inhibition was associated with reduced cortical thickness in the left ventral lateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), an area that has been functionally associated with memory inhibition, but not in either the right or left superior parietal lobule (SPL), areas that have been functionally associated with perceptual inhibition. On the contrary, while impaired perceptual inhibition was associated with cortical thinning in the right SPL, it was not associated with cortical thickness in either the left VLPFC or SPL. These results suggest a double dissociation between performance on 2 types of inhibitory control tasks and cortical thinning in specific brain areas, previously shown to be uniquely associated with functional activation of each these 2 types of cognitive tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The salience of a reward cue can outlast reward devaluation.
    Reward cues can be perceived as highly attractive stimuli because of their acquired motivational properties. However, because the motivational value of reward changes after reward receipt, a debated question is whether the attentional salience of reward cues changes accordingly. In Experiment 1, thirsty participants learned 3 cue–reward associations involving different contingencies. Then, while thirsty, participants performed a visual-search task under extinction, during which the previous reward cues appeared as irrelevant stimuli containing target and distractor items. Experiment 2 was identical to Experiment 1, except that participants drank ad libitum before the visual-search task. In Experiment 3, instead, participants quenched their thirst at the beginning of the learning session. The results of Experiment 1 showed that attention was preferentially deployed toward the cue that best predicted the reward in the previous conditioning phase. Crucially, Experiment 2 revealed that the attentional bias persisted despite reward devaluation. By contrast, no attentional bias was found in Experiment 3. The novelty of our study is that the attentional salience of a reward cue can outlast reward devaluation, suggesting that some incentive properties of the cue can become independent from those of the reward. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Flavors paired with internal pain or with nausea elicit divergent types of hedonic responses.
    Pairing a taste with either internal pain (e.g., from hypertonic saline injection) or nausea (e.g., from LiCl administration) will reduce subsequent consumption of that taste. Here we examine the responses to a taste paired with either hypertonic saline or LiCl using the analysis of licking microstructure (mean lick cluster size: Experiments 1–3), taste reactivity (examining the distribution of appetitive and aversive orofacial responses: Experiments 2–3), and immobility (as a measure of fear: Experiments 2–3). At both high (10 ml/kg 0.15 M LiCl, 10 ml/kg 1.5 M NaCl) and low dose levels (2 ml/kg 0.15 M LiCl, 4 ml/kg 1.5 M NaCl), pairing a taste with either LiCl-induced nausea or internal pain produced by hypertonic NaCl caused reductions in voluntary consumption, in appetitive taste reactivity responses, and in lick cluster size. However, only pairing with LiCl resulted in conditioned aversive taste reactivity responses to the taste. In contrast, pairing with hypertonic NaCl resulted in the taste eliciting higher levels of immobility (reflecting fear) than did pairing the taste with LiCl. The clearly dissociable effects of LiCl and hypertonic saline on aversive taste reactivity and fear responses, despite equivalent effects on consumption, demonstrates selective conditioning effects between internal pain and nausea. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Social stress in early puberty has long-term impacts on impulsive action.
    In hamsters, individuals attacked by adults during puberty become aggressive adults. Perhaps, enhanced aggression observed as repeated attacks toward opponents is associated with a lack of impulse control. We examined impulsive action in male golden hamsters exposed daily to aggressive adults from postnatal Day 28 to 42. These animals were trained in conditioning chambers and tested during adulthood in a go–no-go task addressing action inhibition. Overall, previously stressed hamsters were less likely to inhibit a conditioned lever pressing response during no-go trials. Because this effect could be the result of an extinction impairment, additional animals were tested to evaluate their response to omission of reward associated with conditioned lever pressing. In this experiment, all animals were equally capable of inhibiting their conditioned response. The capacity to inhibit a conditioned response was further addressed by testing responses to a 60-s reward delay after lever pressing. In this case, previously stressed animals were faster to inhibit lever pressing and stopped showing a preference for the proximity of the lever. These studies show selective condition-dependent effects on lever pressing activity and support the possibility that stress in early puberty enhances impulsive action in adulthood. These experiments may be relevant to the study of mental disorders associated with early trauma in humans. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Child gender influences paternal behavior, language, and brain function.
    Multiple lines of research indicate that fathers often treat boys and girls differently in ways that impact child outcomes. The complex picture that has emerged, however, is obscured by methodological challenges inherent to the study of parental caregiving, and no studies to date have examined the possibility that gender differences in observed real-world paternal behavior are related to differential paternal brain responses to male and female children. Here we compare fathers of daughters and fathers of sons in terms of naturalistically observed everyday caregiving behavior and neural responses to child picture stimuli. Compared with fathers of sons, fathers of daughters were more attentively engaged with their daughters, sang more to their daughters, used more analytical language and language related to sadness and the body with their daughters, and had a stronger neural response to their daughter’s happy facial expressions in areas of the brain important for reward and emotion regulation (medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex [OFC]). In contrast, fathers of sons engaged in more rough and tumble play (RTP), used more achievement language with their sons, and had a stronger neural response to their son’s neutral facial expressions in the medial OFC (mOFC). Whereas the mOFC response to happy faces was negatively related to RTP, the mOFC response to neutral faces was positively related to RTP, specifically for fathers of boys. These results indicate that real-world paternal behavior and brain function differ as a function of child gender. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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