Although it is well-established that animals will self-stimulate electric current to various diverse brain structures, the neural substrate of brain stimulation reward (BSR) has eluded identification since its discovery more than a half-century ago. We show that GABA neurons in the midbrain, hypothalamus and thalamus express connexin-36 (Cx36) gap junctions and couple electrically with dopamine application or by stimulation of the internal capsule (IC), which also supports self-stimulation. The threshold for responding for self-stimulation of the IC is the threshold for coupling between these GABA neurons, the degree of responding for IC ICSS is proportional to the magnitude of electrical coupling between these GABA neurons, and GJ blockers, including the Cx36 blocker mefloquine, increase the threshold for IC self-stimulation without affecting performance. Thus, electrical coupling between this network of GABA neurons fits the prevailing model for the elusive integrator of BSR.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Neuroscience
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Lassen, Matthew Brian, "Brain Stimulation Reward is Integrated by A Network of Electrically-Coupled GABA Neurons" (2006). Theses and Dissertations. 1298.
VTA, BSR, ICSS, brain stimulation reward, GABA, dopamine