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      Circuits regulating pleasure and happiness: the evolution of reward-seeking and misery-fleeing behavioral mechanisms in vertebrates

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          The very first free-moving animals in the oceans over 540 million years ago must have been able to obtain food, territory, and shelter, as well as reproduce. Therefore, they would have needed regulatory mechanisms to induce movements enabling achievement of these prerequisites for survival. It can be useful to consider these mechanisms in primitive chordates, which represent our earliest ancestors, to develop hypotheses addressing how these essential parts of human behavior are regulated and relate to more sophisticated behavioral manifestations such as mood. An animal comparable to lampreys was the earliest known vertebrate with a modern forebrain consisting of old and new cortical parts. Lampreys have a separate dorsal pallium, the forerunner of the most recently developed part of the cerebral cortex. In addition, the lamprey extrapyramidal system (EPS), which regulates movement, is modern. However, in lampreys and their putative forerunners, the hagfishes, the striatum, which is the input part of this EPS, probably corresponds to the human centromedial amygdala, which in higher vertebrates is part of a system mediating fear and anxiety. Both animals have well-developed nuclear habenulae, which are involved in several critical behaviors; in lampreys this system regulates the reward system that reinforces appetitive-seeking behavior or the avoidance system that reinforces flight behavior resulting from negative inputs. Lampreys also have a distinct glutamatergic nucleus, the so-called habenula-projection globus pallidus, which receives input from glutamatergic and GABAergic signals and gives output to the lateral habenula. Via this route, this nucleus influences midbrain monoaminergic nuclei and regulates the food acquisition system. These various structures involved in motor regulation in the lampreys may be conserved in humans and include two complementary mechanisms for reward reinforcement and avoidance behaviors. The first system is associated with experiencing pleasure and the second with happiness. The activities of these mechanisms are regulated by a tract running via the habenula to the upper brainstem. Identifying the human correlate of the lamprey habenula-projecting globus pallidus may help in elucidating the mechanism of the antidepressant effects of glutamatergic drugs.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Neurobehavioral mechanisms of impulsivity: fronto-striatal systems and functional neurochemistry.

          Impulsive acts and decisions are a part of everyday normal behavior. However, in its pathological forms, impulsivity can be a debilitating disorder often associated with a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This article reviews recent progress in our understanding of the neurobiology of impulsivity using examples from recent investigations in experimental animals. Evidence is reviewed from several well-established paradigms with putative utility in assessing distinct forms of impulsive behavior in rodents, including the 5-choice serial reaction time (5CSRT) task and the delay discounting paradigm. We discuss, in particular, recent psychopharmacological and in-vivo neurochemical data in task-performing rats showing functional heterogeneity of the forebrain dopamine (DA), noradrenaline (NA), serotonin (5-HT) and acetylcholine (ACh) systems and identify how these systems normally function to facilitate flexible goal-directed behavior in situations that tax basic attentional functions and inhibitory response control mechanisms. We also discuss future research needs in terms of understanding the functional diversity of different sub-regions of prefrontal cortex (PFC) and how these systems normally interact with the striatum and main nuclei of origin of DA and NA neurons. Finally, we argue in line with others that animal paradigms are unlikely to model all aspects of complex psychiatric conditions such as ADHD but components of such syndromes may be amenable to investigation using sophisticated animal models based on highly-defined psychiatric endophenotypes.
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            The comparative neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of zebrafish CNS systems of relevance to human neuropsychiatric diseases.

            Modulatory neurotransmitters which signal through G protein-coupled receptors control brain functions which deteriorate in degenerative brain diseases. During the past decade many of these systems have been mapped in the zebrafish brain. The main architecture of the systems in zebrafish brain resembles that of the mammals, despite differences in the development of the telencephalon and mesodiencephalon. Modulatory neurotransmitters systems which degenerate in human diseases include dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, histamine, acetylcholine and orexin/hypocretin. Although the number of G protein-coupled receptors in zebrafish is clearly larger than in mammals, many receptors have similar expression patterns, binding and signaling properties as in mammals. Distinct differences between mammals and zebrafish include duplication of the tyrosine hydroxylase gene in zebrafish, and presence of one instead of two monoamine oxidase genes. Zebrafish are sensitive to neurotoxins including MPTP, and exposure to this neurotoxin induces a decline in dopamine content and number of detectable tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive neurons in distinct nuclei. Sensitivity to important neurotoxins, many available genetic methods, rapid development and large-scale quantitative behavioral methods in addition to advanced quantitative anatomical methods render zebrafish an optimal organism for studies on disease mechanisms. (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Evolutionary conservation of the basal ganglia as a common vertebrate mechanism for action selection.

              Although the basal ganglia are thought to play a key role in action selection in mammals, it is unknown whether this mammalian circuitry is present in lower vertebrates as a conserved selection mechanism. We aim here, using lamprey, to elucidate the basal ganglia circuitry in the phylogenetically oldest group of vertebrates (cyclostomes) and determine how this selection architecture evolved to accommodate the increased behavioral repertoires of advanced vertebrates. We show, using immunohistochemistry, tract tracing, and whole-cell recordings, that all parts of the mammalian basal ganglia (striatum, globus pallidus interna [GPi] and externa [GPe], and subthalamic nucleus [STN]) are present in the lamprey forebrain. In addition, the circuit features, molecular markers, and physiological activity patterns are conserved. Thus, GABAergic striatal neurons expressing substance P project directly to the pallidal output layer, whereas enkephalin-expressing striatal neurons project indirectly via nuclei homologous to the GPe and STN. Moreover, pallidal output neurons tonically inhibit tectum, mesencephalic, and diencephalic motor regions. These results show that the detailed basal ganglia circuitry is present in the phylogenetically oldest vertebrates and has been conserved, most likely as a mechanism for action selection used by all vertebrates, for over 560 million years. Our data also suggest that the mammalian basal ganglia evolved through a process of exaptation, where the ancestral core unit has been co-opted for multiple functions, allowing them to process cognitive, emotional, and motor information in parallel and control a broader range of behaviors. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Front Neurosci
                Front Neurosci
                Front. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                23 October 2015
                : 9
                1Department of Pharmacy, Geestelijke GezondheidsZorg Westelijk Noord-Brabant Chair of Pharmacotherapy in Psychiatric Patients, University of Groningen Groningen, Netherlands
                2Mental Health Institute Westelijk Noord-Brabant Halsteren, Netherlands
                3Molecular Biology and Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Research Institute Tomsk, Russia
                4Department of Ecology and Basic Safety, National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University Tomsk, Russia
                Author notes

                Edited by: J. Michael Williams, Drexel University, USA

                Reviewed by: Lei Chang, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong; Rosemary Hopcroft, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA

                *Correspondence: Anton J. M. Loonen a.j.m.loonen@ 123456rug.nl

                This article was submitted to Evolutionary Psychology and Neuroscience, a section of the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience

                Copyright © 2015 Loonen and Ivanova.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 46, Pages: 12, Words: 7507
                Funded by: Russian Foundation for Basic Research 10.13039/501100002261
                Award ID: 14-04-01157a
                Hypothesis and Theory


                evolution of cns, striatum, amygdala, habenula, addiction, depression, ketamine


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