Sangyu Xu, Gishnu Das, Emily Hueske, Susumu Tonegawa
Current Biology, Volume 27, Issue 20, p3111–3119.e3, 23 October 2017
Appropriate choice about delayed reward is fundamental to the survival of animals. Although animals tend to prefer immediate reward, delaying gratification is often advantageous. The dorsal raphe (DR) serotonergic neurons have long been implicated in the processing of delayed reward, but it has been unclear whether or when their activity causally directs choice. Here, we transiently augmented or reduced the activity of DR serotonergic neurons, while mice decided between differently delayed rewards as they performed a novel odor-guided intertemporal choice task. We found that these manipulations, precisely targeted at the decision point, were sufficient to bidirectionally influence impulsive choice. The manipulation specifically affected choices with more difficult trade-off. Similar effects were observed when we manipulated the serotonergic projections to the nucleus accumbens (NAc). We propose that DR serotonergic neurons preempt reward delays at the decision point and play a critical role in suppressing impulsive choice by regulating decision trade-off.