Thirst regulates motivated behavior through modulation of brainwide neural population dynamics

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 15:00 in Psychology & Sociology

Physiological needs produce motivational drives, such as thirst and hunger, that regulate behaviors essential to survival. Hypothalamic neurons sense these needs and must coordinate relevant brainwide neuronal activity to produce the appropriate behavior. We studied dynamics from ~24,000 neurons in 34 brain regions during thirst-motivated choice behavior in 21 mice as they consumed water and became sated. Water-predicting sensory cues elicited activity that rapidly spread throughout the brain of thirsty animals. These dynamics were gated by a brainwide mode of population activity that encoded motivational state. After satiation, focal optogenetic activation of hypothalamic thirst-sensing neurons returned global activity to the pre-satiation state. Thus, motivational states specify initial conditions that determine how a brainwide dynamical system transforms sensory input into behavioral output.

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