Citation: Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 10502-10511
Abstract: After classically conditioned learning, dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) respond immediately to unexpected conditioned stimuli (CS) but omit formerly seen responses to expected unconditioned stimuli, notably rewards. These cells play an important role in reinforcement learning. A neural model explains the key neurophysiological properties of these cells before, during, and after conditioning, as well as related anatomical and neurophysiological data about the pedunculo-pontine tegmental nucleus (PPTN), lateral hypothalamus, ventral striatum, and striosomes. The model proposes how two parallel learning pathways from limbic cortex to the SNc, one devoted to excitatory conditioning (through the ventral striatum, ventral pallidum, and PPTN) and the other to adaptively timed inhibitory conditioning (through the striosomes).