Then, as the rats performed the task, researchers monitored neurons within the ventral pallidum area of the rats' brains, a subcortical structure near the base of the brain.
Next, the researchers used "optogenetics," a technique that allows the manipulation of cells through targeted beams of light, to temporarily suppress the activity of ventral pallidum neurons while the rats heard the sugar cues.
Short-term, D2 receptor blockade induces synaptic degeneration, reduces levels of tyrosine hydroxylase and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and enhances D2mediated firing in the ventral pallidum
12-15) The VTA receives GABAergic projection from ventral pallidum
and nucleus accumbens (16) and ascend to nucleus accumbens (17) and prefrontal cortex.
Discussing the differences in social behavior between montane and prairie voles, Churchland explains that mating for life, shared parenting, nest-guarding, and social clustering characteristic of prairie but not montane voles could be explained partly by the higher density of AVP and OXT receptors in their ventral pallidum
and nucleus accumbens (part of the reward-punishment system) regions of the brain, which in turn can be explained by different environmental conditions.
Another structure called the ventral pallidum
is a target of vasopressin.
One such region - known as the ventral pallidum
- is thought to be involved in processing thoughts related to rewards such as food.