Tellez LA, Han W, Zhang X, Ferreira TL, Perez IO, Shammah-Lagnado SJ, van den Pol AN, de Araujo IE
Nat Neurosci. 2016 Jan 25. doi: 10.1038/nn.4224.
Sugar exerts its potent reinforcing effects via both gustatory and post-ingestive pathways. It is, however, unknown whether sweetness and nutritional signals engage segregated brain networks to motivate ingestion. We found in mice that separate basal ganglia circuitries mediated the hedonic and nutritional actions of sugar. During sugar intake, suppressing hedonic value inhibited dopamine release in ventral, but not dorsal, striatum, whereas suppressing nutritional value inhibited dopamine release in dorsal, but not ventral, striatum. Consistently, cell-specific ablation of dopamine-excitable cells in dorsal, but not ventral, striatum inhibited sugar's ability to drive the ingestion of unpalatable solutions. Conversely, optogenetic stimulation of dopamine-excitable cells in dorsal, but not ventral, striatum substituted for sugar in its ability to drive the ingestion of unpalatable solutions. Our data indicate that sugar recruits a distributed dopamine-excitable striatal circuitry that acts to prioritize energy-seeking over taste quality.