The effects of bilateral chemical lesions of the ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens and the surrounding areas in the medial striatum) and arcopallium (major descending area of the avian telencephalon) were examined in 1-2-weeks old domestic chicks. Using a Y-maze, we analyzed the lesion effects on the choices that subject chicks made in two tasks with identical economical consequences, i.e., a small-and-close food reward vs. a large-and-distant food reward. In task 1, red, yellow, and green beads were associated with a feeder placed at various distances from the chicks; chicks thus anticipated the spatial proximity of food by the bead's color, whereas the quantity of the food was fixed. In task 2, red and yellow flags on the feeders were associated with various amount of food; the chicks thus anticipated the quantity of food by the flag's color, whereas the proximity of the reward could be directly visually determined. In task 1, bilateral lesions of the ventral striatum (but not the arcopallium) enhanced the impulsiveness of the chicks' choices, suggesting that choices based on the anticipated proximity were selectively changed. In task 2, similar lesions of the ventral striatum did not change choices. In both experiments, motor functions of the chicks remained unchanged, suggesting that the lesions did not affect the foraging efficiency, i.e., objective values of food. Neural correlates of anticipated food rewards in the ventral striatum (but not those in the arcopallium) could allow chicks to invest appropriate amount of work-cost in approaching distant food resources.
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