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The SC-SNc pathway boosts appetitive locomotion in predatory hunting

By Meizhu Huang, Dapeng Li, Qing Pei, zhiyong Xie, Huating Gu, Aixue Liu, Zijun Chen, Yi Wang, Fangmiao Sun, Yulong Li, Jiayi Zhang, Miao He, Yuan Xie, Fan Zhang, Xiangbing Qi, Congping Shang, Peng Cao

Posted 24 Nov 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.23.395004

Appetitive locomotion is essential for organisms to approach rewards, such as food and prey. How the brain controls appetitive locomotion is poorly understood. In a naturalistic goal-directed behavior predatory hunting, we demonstrate an excitatory brain circuit from the superior colliculus (SC) to the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) to boost appetitive locomotion. The SC-SNc pathway transmitted locomotion-speed signals to dopamine neurons and triggered dopamine release in the dorsal striatum. Activation of this pathway increased the speed and frequency of approach during predatory hunting, an effect that depended on the activities of SNc dopamine neurons. Conversely, synaptic inactivation of this pathway impaired appetitive locomotion but not defensive or exploratory locomotion. Together, these data revealed the SC as an important source to provide locomotion-related signals to SNc dopamine neurons to boost appetitive locomotion.

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