Postdoc, Vanderbilt University
Dopamine release dynamics in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which connects the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), are an essential component of the process that controls motivation and reward-seeking behavior in Substance Use Disorder. In the NAc specifically, tonic and phasic dopamine release is known to play a critical role in converting information about environmental reward-predictive cues to anticipated rewarding outcomes and is heavily modulated by the activity of cholinergic (ChAT) interneurons signaling through nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Using operant conditioning and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry with pharmacology we defined sex differences in ChAT regulation of dopamine release underlying sex-specific motivational strategies for non-drug rewards. We find critical differences in cholinergic regulation of dopamine terminals that underlies distinct differences in behavioral strategies between males and females.