Conjunctive processing of locomotor signals by the ventral tegmental area neuronal population

Dong V. Wang, Joe Z. Tsien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The ventral tegmental area (VTA) plays an essential role in reward and motivation. How the dopamine (DA) and non-DA neurons in the VTA engage in motivation-based locomotor behaviors is not well understood. We recorded activity of putative DA and non-DA neurons simultaneously in the VTA of awake mice engaged in motivated voluntary movements such as wheel running. Our results revealed that VTA non-DA neurons exhibited significant rhythmic activity that was correlated with the animal's running rhythms. Activity of putative DA neurons also correlated with the movement behavior, but to a lesser degree. More importantly, putative DA neurons exhibited significant burst activation at both onset and offset of voluntary movements. These findings suggest that VTA DA and non-DA neurons conjunctively process locomotor- elated motivational signals that are associated with movement initiation, maintenance and termination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere16528
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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