Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36590697
Link to DOI – 10035510.1016/j.crmeth.2022.100355
Cell Rep Methods 2022 Dec; 2(12): 100355
Perceptual decision-making tasks are essential to many fields of neuroscience. Current protocols generally reward deprived animals with water. However, balancing animals’ deprivation level with their well-being is challenging, and trial number is limited by satiation. Here, we present electrical stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) as an alternative that avoids deprivation while yielding stable motivation for thousands of trials. Using licking or lever press as a report, MFB animals learnt auditory discrimination tasks at similar speed to water-deprived mice. Moreover, they more reliably reached higher accuracy in harder tasks, performing up to 4,500 trials per session without loss of motivation. MFB stimulation did not impact the underlying sensory behavior since psychometric parameters and response times are preserved. MFB mice lacked signs of metabolic or behavioral stress compared with water-deprived mice. Overall, MFB stimulation is a highly promising tool for task learning because it enhances task performance while avoiding deprivation.