Dopamine neurotransmission in the VTA regulates aversive memory formation and persistence

Castillo Díaz, Fernando
Dalto, Juliana F.
Pereyra, Magdalena
Medina, Jorge Horacio
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"Dopamine (DA) neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) innervating several limbic and neocortical regions of the mammalian brain have long been implicated in motivation, rewarding and aversive behaviors, and memory processing. Recently, we demonstrated that somatodendritic release of DA in the VTA regulates the formation and maintenance of appetitive long-term memories (LTM). However, less is known about the impact of DA neurotransmission in the VTA on aversive LTM. Here, we describe the modulation of negative-valence memories by D1/D5-type DA (D1R)-receptor-mediated neurotransmission in the VTA. As aversive stimuli elicit both active and passive behavioral responses, we used two single-trial aversive training protocols: inhibitory avoidance task and conditioned place aversion. We bilaterally microinfused SCH23390, an antagonist of D1R, into the VTA immediately after training and found that DA neurotransmission in the VTA modulates LTM consolidation and persistence of aversive experiences. Together with previous findings demonstrating that D1R mediated DA neurotransmission in the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus is involved in the formation and persistence of LTM for aversive events, our present results indicate that memory processing of environmental stimuli with negative-valence depends on the integration of information mediated by D1R activation in both the VTA region and in selected downstream target areas."