Starting New Actions and Learning from It

Rui Costa1

  • 1Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, Instituto Gulbenkiande Ciência



14:30 - 16:00 | Thu 21 Mar | Grand Ballroom A | ThMS

Minisymposium: Motor Learning and Enhancement

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Understanding how actions are learned through trial and feedback, requires mechanistic insight into how self-paced actions are initiated, how they can be selected/initiated again, and how feedback can shape their execution and organization. We used behavioral, genetic, electrophysiological, and optical approaches to uncover that dopaminergic neurons are transiently active before self-paced movement initiation. This activity is not action-specific and modulates both the probability of initiation and the vigor of future movements, but does not affect ongoing movement. Dopamine is supposed to have opposite effects on downstream striatal direct and indirect pathways. Contrary to what is classically postulated, we found that both striatal direct and indirect pathways are active during movement initiation. The activity in both pathways is action-specific, organized in specific spatiotemporal patterns, and has complementary but different roles in movement initiation. Furthermore, when animals organize their individual movements in sequences or chunks, activity related to the initiation or termination of these chunks emerges in dopaminergic and striatal circuits. The behavioral and neuronal re-organization that accompanies sequence learning requires plasticity between the cortex and striatum. Finally, using closed-loop brain machine paradigms, we revealed that this plasticity is necessary to select, reinforce and shape specific neural that lead to desirable outcomes.

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