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Title: Electrophysiological and behavioural correlates of motivation and choice in a simple visually guided task
Author: Berditchevskaia, Aleksandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 7380
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2015
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Motivation is a fundamental driving force in animal behaviour. As such, it is vital that we are aware of its influence in shaping the behaviour examined in a laboratory setting. We set out to explore how changes in motivation affected the performance of a simple visual task using both behavioural analyses and multi-unit recordings in primary visual cortex (V1) of behaving mice. To address the question we trained water-restricted mice to selectively lick for a water reward during a 'Go' stimulus in a Go/NoGo version of a two-category discrimination. This simple paradigm is widely used across the neuroscience community due its relative ease of implementation. On the level of behavioural analysis we show that depending on motivation, performance of the task is reliant on a balance of different behavioural processes. Specifically, we demonstrate the novel result that in a state of overmotivation, goal-directed instrumental contingencies are 'masked' while Pavlovian processes dominate over action selection. Secondly, we investigated the multi-unit neural correlates of a simple visual discrimination task recorded in V1. We hypothesized that the typical changes to motivational state within a behavioural session would affect sensory processing, and that the neural signature of this effect could be found in V1. Our choice of time frame for the focus of our analysis brings valuable insights to an increasingly encountered behavioural paradigm. Furthermore, we show novel evidence of temporally specific correlates of motivation and choice behaviour in mouse V1. The recent shift to experiments using head-fixed, behaving rodents by many neurophysiologists makes a thorough understanding of underlying processes paramount. Exploring the boundary between intentional choices and overt interference by motivational states cannot be underestimated. Throughout this work we aim to incorporate existing behavioural psychology literature within the context of modern neuroscience approaches; thus providing a valuable resource for both of these communities.
Supervisor: Schultz, Simon Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available