Intense motivational salience attribution is considered to have a major role in the development of different psychopathologies. Numerous brain areas are involved in "normal" motivational salience attribution processes; however, it is not clear whether common or different neural mechanisms also underlie intense motivational salience attribution. To elucidate this a brain area and a neural system had to be envisaged that were involved only in motivational salience attribution to highly salient stimuli. Using intracerebral microdialysis, we found that natural stimuli induced an increase in norepinephrine release in the medial prefrontal cortex of mice proportional to their salience, and that selective prefrontal norepinephrine depletion abolished the increase of norepinephrine release in the medial prefrontal cortex induced by exposure to appetitive (palatable food) or aversive (light) stimuli independently of salience. However, selective norepinephrine depletion in the medial prefrontal cortex impaired the place conditioning induced exclusively by highly salient stimuli, thus indicating that prefrontal noradrenergic transmission determines approach or avoidance responses to both reward- and aversion-related natural stimuli only when the salience of the unconditioned natural stimulus is high enough to induce sustained norepinephrine outflow. This affirms that prefrontal noradrenergic transmission determines motivational salience attribution selectively when intense motivational salience is processed, as in conditions that characterize psychopathological outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)