Distinct Roles of Ventromedial versus Ventrolateral Striatal Medium Spiny Neurons in Reward-Oriented Behavior

Iku Tsutsui-Kimura, Akiyo Natsubori, Marina Mori, Kenta Kobayashi, Michael R. Drew, Alban de Kerchove d'Exaerde, Masaru Mimura, Kenji F. Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The ventral striatum (VS) is a key brain center regulating reward-oriented behavior [1–4]. The VS can be anatomically divided into medial (VMS) and lateral (VLS) portions based on cortical input patterns. The VMS receives inputs from medial pallium-originated limbic structures (e.g., the medial prefrontal cortex [mPFC]), and the VLS receives inputs from the lateral pallium-originated areas (e.g., the insula) [5, 6]. This anatomical feature led us to hypothesize a functional segregation within the VS in terms of the regulation of reward-oriented behavior. Here, we engineered a fiber photometry system [4] and monitored population-level Ca2+ activities of dopamine D2-receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons (D2-MSNs), one of the major cell types in the striatum, during a food-seeking discrimination task. We found that VLS D2-MSNs were activated at the time of cue presentation. In stark contrast, VMS D2-MSNs were inhibited at this time point. Optogenetic counteraction of those changes in the VLS and VMS impaired action initiation and increased responding toward non-rewarded cues, respectively. During lever-press reversal training, VMS inhibition at the time of cue presentation temporarily ceased and optogenetic activation of VMS D2-MSNs facilitated acquisition of the new contingency. These data indicate that the opposing inhibition and excitation in VMS and VLS are important for selecting and initiating a proper action in a reward-oriented behavior. We propose distinct subregional roles within the VS in the execution of successful reward-oriented behavior. Tsutsui-Kimura, Natsubori, et al. find opposing activity patterns of medium spiny neurons at the medial and lateral portions of the ventral striatum during reward-oriented behavior. Each activity mediates distinct function but cooperates with successful reward-oriented behavior, proposing a new functional dichotomy of the ventral striatum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3042-3048.e4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 9


  • fiber photometry
  • motivation
  • optogenetics
  • reward-oriented behavior
  • ventral striatum
  • yellow cameleon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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