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Mesolimbic Dopamine, Its Receptors and Social Learning

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Title: Mesolimbic Dopamine, Its Receptors and Social Learning
Author: Matta, Richard
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Choleris, Elena
Abstract: This thesis investigated the role of dopamine (DA) in the social transmission of food preferences (STFP) in male and female mice. A study conducted by Choleris et al., 2011 using systemic treatments found a role for DA D1-type receptors (D1, D5) in social learning, and a role for DA D2-type receptors (D2, D3, D4) in feeding behavior in the STFP in mice. The potential brain region(s) of action underlying these effects are only now being investigated. The ventral tegmental area (VTA) has dopaminergic projections to limbic structures including the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens (NAc). Previous work done in our lab finds that infusing the DA D1-type receptor antagonist SCH23390 into the dorsal hippocampus blocks social learning in male and female mice (Matta et al., 2017). This thesis found that infusing the DA D2-type receptor antagonist Raclopride into the dorsal hippocampus blocks social learning in female, but not male mice. This social learning impairment due to intrahippocampal Raclopride could not be explained by changes in total food intakes, exposure to the socially carried diet odor, or changes in olfactory discrimination between the two foods used during the choice test. Blocking hippocampal DA D2-type receptors also sex-dependently mediated the social interactions, whereby males had a greater reduction in agonistic-type behaviors, while females had a greater reduction in social investigatory-type behaviors. Using in vivo microdialysis, we further found that social learning in the STFP was associated with increased hippocampal DA release for males, whereas social learning was associated with decreased hippocampal DA release for females. This sex difference in hippocampal DA release during the STFP could not be explained by differences in the exposures to the socially carried food odor. Lastly, infusing SCH23390 into the shell of the NAc did not affect social learning or feeding behavior in the STFP in either male nor female mice. However, there were effects of intra-NAc SCH23390 on the social interactions, including reductions in social behaviors such as social investigation and agonistic behaviors for both sexes. Thus, mesolimbic DA and its receptors sex-dependently mediate the STFP in mice.
Date: 2018-08
Citation: Matta, R., Ervin, K. S. J., & Choleris, E. (2016). The neurobiology of social learning. In: M. C. Olmstead (Ed.), Animal cognition: Principles, evolution, and development (pp. 171–200). Hauppauge, New York: NOVA Science Publishers. ISBN: 978-1-63485-383-5.

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