Electrophysiological signatures of reward learning in the rodent touchscreen-based Probabilistic Reward Task

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2023 Mar;48(4):700-709. doi: 10.1038/s41386-023-01532-4. Epub 2023 Jan 16.


Blunted reward learning and reward-related activation within the corticostriatal-midbrain circuitry have been implicated in the pathophysiology of anhedonia and depression. Unfortunately, the search for more efficacious interventions for anhedonic behaviors has been hampered by the use of vastly different preclinical and clinical assays. In a first step in addressing this gap, in the current study, we used event-related potentials and spectral analyses in conjunction with a touchscreen version of the rodent Probabilistic Reward Task (PRT) to identify the electrophysiological signatures of reward learning in rats. We trained 11 rats (5 females and 6 males) on the rodent touchscreen-based PRT and subsequently implanted them with deep electrodes in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) for local field potentials recordings during the PRT. Behaviorally, the expected responsivity-to-reward profile was observed. At the electrophysiological level, we identified a negative amplitude deflection 250-500 ms after feedback in the ACC and NAc electrodes, as well as power increase in feedback-locked delta (1-5 Hz) and alpha/beta (9-17 Hz) bands in both electrodes for rewarded trials. Using a reverse-translational approach, we identified electrophysiological signatures of reward learning in rats similar to those described in humans. These findings and approaches might provide a useful translational platform to efficiently evaluate novel therapeutics targeting anhedonia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anhedonia*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Rats
  • Reward
  • Rodentia*