Reversible inactivation of the lateral hypothalamus reversed high reward choices in cost-benefit decision-making in rats

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The Lateral hypothalamus (LH) is an important component of the networks underlying the control of feeding and other motivated behaviors. Cost-benefit decision-making is mediated largely by the prefrontal cortex (PFC) which strongly innervates the LH. Therefore, in the current study, we conducted a series of experiments to elucidate the role of the perifornical area of the lateral hypothalamus (PeF-LH) in effort and/or delay-based decision-making. We trained different groups of rats in a delay-based and/or an effort-based form of cost-benefit T-maze decision- making task in which they could either choose to pay the cost to obtain a high reward in one arm or could obtain a low reward in the other arm with no cost. During test days, the rats received local injections of either vehicle or lidocaine4% (0.5 μl/side), in the PeF-LH.

In an effort-based decision task, PeF-LH inactivation led to decrease in high reward choice. Similarly, in a delay-based decision task animals’ preference changed to a low but immediately available reward. This was not caused by a spatial memory or motor deficit. PeF-LH inactivation modified decision behavior. The results imply that PeF-LH is important for allowing the animal to pay a cost to acquire greater rewards.

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