Forebrain circuitry involved in effort-related choice: Injections of the GABAA agonist muscimol into ventral pallidum alter response allocation in food-seeking behavior

Neuroscience. 2008 Mar 18;152(2):321-30. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.12.034. Epub 2008 Jan 1.


Organisms often make effort-related choices based upon assessments of motivational value and work requirements. Nucleus accumbens dopamine is a critical component of the brain circuitry regulating work output in reinforcement-seeking behavior. Rats with accumbens dopamine depletions reallocate their instrumental behavior away from food-reinforced tasks that have high response requirements, and instead they select a less-effortful type of food-seeking behavior. The ventral pallidum is a brain area that receives substantial GABAergic input from nucleus accumbens. It was hypothesized that stimulation of GABA(A) receptors in the ventral pallidum would result in behavioral effects that resemble those produced by interference with accumbens dopamine transmission. The present studies employed a concurrent choice lever pressing/chow intake procedure; with this task, interference with accumbens dopamine transmission shifts choice behavior such that lever pressing for food is decreased but chow intake is increased. In the present experiments, infusions of the GABA(A) agonist muscimol (5.0-10.0 ng) into the ventral pallidum decreased lever pressing for preferred food, but increased consumption of the less preferred chow. In contrast, ventral pallidal infusions of muscimol (10.0 ng) had no significant effect on preference for the palatable food in free-feeding choice tests. Furthermore, injections of muscimol into a control site dorsal to the ventral pallidum produced no significant effects on lever pressing and chow intake. These data indicate that stimulation of GABA receptors in ventral pallidum produces behavioral effects similar to those produced by accumbens dopamine depletions. Ventral pallidum appears to be a component of the brain circuitry regulating response allocation and effort-related choice behavior, and may act to convey information from nucleus accumbens to other parts of this circuitry. This research may have implications for understanding the brain mechanisms involved in energy-related psychiatric dysfunctions such as psychomotor retardation in depression, anergia, and apathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects*
  • Cholera Toxin / metabolism
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects*
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Globus Pallidus / drug effects*
  • Globus Pallidus / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscimol / pharmacology*
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Reinforcement, Psychology


  • GABA Agonists
  • Muscimol
  • Cholera Toxin