Opponent control of behavioral reinforcement by inhibitory and excitatory projections from the ventral pallidum

Nat Commun. 2018 Feb 27;9(1):849. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03125-y.


The ventral pallidum (VP) lies at the interface between sensory, motor, and cognitive processing-with a particular role in mounting behavioral responses to rewards. Though the VP is predominantly GABAergic, glutamate neurons were recently identified, though their relative abundances and respective roles are unknown. Here, we show that VP glutamate neurons are concentrated in the rostral ventromedial VP and project to qualitatively similar targets as do VP GABA neurons. At the functional level, we used optogenetics to show that activity in VP GABA neurons can drive positive reinforcement, particularly through projections to the ventral tegmental area (VTA). On the other hand, activation of VP glutamate neurons leads to behavioral avoidance, particularly through projections to the lateral habenula. These findings highlight cell-type and projection-target specific roles for VP neurons in behavioral reinforcement, dysregulation of which could contribute to the emergence of negative symptoms associated with drug addiction and other neuropsychiatric disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Forebrain / cytology*
  • Basal Forebrain / physiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / physiology
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2 / metabolism


  • Slc17a6 protein, mouse
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2