Motivated behavior is influenced by neural networks that integrate physiological needs. Here, we describe coordinated regulation of hypothalamic feeding and midbrain rewardcircuits in awake behaving mice.
We find that alcohol and other non-nutritive drugs inhibit activity in hypothalamic feeding neurons. Interestingly, nutrients and drugs utilize different pathways for the inhibition of hypothalamic neuron activity, as alcohol signals hypothalamic neurons in a vagal-independent manner, while fat and satiation signals require the vagus nerve. Concomitantly, nutrients, alcohol, and drugs also increase midbrain dopamine signaling. We provide evidence that these changes are interdependent, as modulation of either hypothalamic neurons or midbrain dopamine signaling influences reward-evoked activity changes in the other population.
Taken together, our results demonstrate that (1) food and drugs can engage at least two peripheral→central pathways to influence hypothalamic neuron activity, and (2) hypothalamic and dopamine circuits interact in response to rewards.
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