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Journal Club

Posted on the 20 May 2015 by Ccc1685 @ccc1685

Here’s the paper I will be covering in Journal Club tomorrow:

Neurons for hunger and thirst transmit a negative-valence teaching signal

  • J. Nicholas BetleyShengjin XuZhen Fang Huang CaoRong GongChristopher J. MagnusYang Yu, & Scott M. Sternson
  • Nature 521, 180–185(14 May 2015)doi:10.1038/nature14416


Homeostasis is a biological principle for regulation of essential physiological parameters within a set range. Behavioural responses due to deviation from homeostasis are critical for survival, but motivational processes engaged by physiological need states are incompletely understood. We examined motivational characteristics of two separate neuron populations that regulate energy and fluid homeostasis by using cell-type-specific activity manipulations in mice. We found that starvation-sensitive AGRP neurons exhibit properties consistent with a negative-valence teaching signal. Mice avoided activation of AGRP neurons, indicating that AGRP neuron activity has negative valence. AGRP neuron inhibition conditioned preference for flavours and places. Correspondingly, deep-brain calcium imaging revealed that AGRP neuron activity rapidly reduced in response to food-related cues. Complementary experiments activating thirst-promoting neurons also conditioned avoidance. Therefore, these need-sensing neurons condition preference for environmental cues associated with nutrient or water ingestion, which is learned through reduction of negative-valence signals during restoration of homeostasis.

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