Cellular Analogs of Operant Behavior.
Final technical rept. 1 Dec 1988-31 May 1992,
CALIFORNIA UNIV IRVINE
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Using the hippocampal-slice preparation, we attempted to demonstrate for the first time the operant conditioning of pyramidal cell bursting activity using local micropressure applications of transmitters and drugs as reinforcement the same injections administered independently of bursting provided a control for direct pharmacological stimulation or facilitation of neuronal firing. The results suggested that the spontaneous activity of individual CA1 pyramidal cells may be reinforced with burst-contingent injections of dopamine D1 and D2 and cannabinoid receptor agonists, whereas CA3 bursting may be reinforced with mu-opioid agonists. Many of these indications of cellular operant conditioning were confirmed at the behavioral level in parallel studies of hippocampal and intravenous self-administration. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that, in the brain slice experiments, drug injections facilitated hippocampal bursting by a cellular mechanism analogous to behavioral reinforcement.