Self-stimulation in the rat: Quantitative characteristics of the reward pathway

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Quantitative characteristics of the neural pathway that carries the reinforcing signal in electrical self-stimulation of the male Sprague-Dawley rat's brain were established by finding which combinations of stimulation parameters give the same performance in a runway. The reward for each run was a train of evenly spaced monophasic cathodal pulses from a monopolar electrode. With train duration and pulse frequency held constant, the required current was a hyperbolic function of pulse duration, with chronaxie c = 1.5 msec. With pulse duration held constant, the required strength of the train (the charge delivered per second) was a hyperbolic function of train duration, with chronaxie C = 500 msec. To a first approximation, the values of c and C were independent of the choice either of train duration and pulse frequency or of pulse duration, respectively. Hence, the current intensity required by any choice of train duration, pulse frequency, and pulse duration depended on only 2 basic parameters, c and C, and 1 quantity, Q-sub(i), the required impulse charge. These may reflect, respectively, current integration by directly excited neurons; temporal integration of neural activity by synaptic processes in a neural network; and the peak of the impulse response of the network, assuming that the network has linear dynamics and that the reward depends on the peak of the output of the network. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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