Tonically active neurons in the monkey striatum do not preferentially respond to appetitive stimuli

Exp Brain Res. 1999 Oct;128(4):531-4. doi: 10.1007/s002210050876.


The tonically active neurons in the monkey striatum respond to stimuli presented during the performance of appetitively motivated behavior. To test whether these neurons are selectively responsive to the appetitive properties of stimuli, we studied their responsiveness to three different stimuli presented in an unsignalled manner to monkeys not performing any behavioral tasks: (1) an appetitive liquid, eliciting licking movements; (2) an aversive air puff directed towards the face, eliciting eyelid closure and facial movements; (3) a neutral sound, eliciting no overt behavioral reactions. The great majority of the tonic striatal neurons tested in two monkeys showed pronounced responses to the delivery of liquid (338 of 388 neurons, 87%) or the onset of the air puff stimulus (168 of 204, 82%). In contrast, few neurons (15 of 68, 22%) were modulated by the sound. The majority (80%) of the neurons tested with appetitive and aversive stimuli (n=189) responded to both types of stimulus. The characteristics of neuronal responses to the liquid were generally not similar to those described for the air puff in terms of response pattern and response duration. This suggests the existence of differences in the encoding of the affective significance of stimuli. It is concluded that tonic striatal neurons might function to differentiate stimuli that are important to the animal from those that are not, regardless of the specific motivational attributes of relevant stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Blinking
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Face
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Microelectrodes
  • Motivation
  • Neurons / physiology*