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Involvement of the Ínsula and medial prefrontal cortex during decision making tasks in rats

Grant number: 17/13904-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2018
Effective date (End): January 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal researcher:Marcelo Salvador Caetano
Grantee:Estela Braga Nepomoceno
Home Institution: Centro de Matemática, Computação e Cognição (CMCC). Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC). Ministério da Educação (Brasil). Santo André , SP, Brazil


There has been a growing interest in the insula in recent years as recent evidence suggests its involvement in high-order processes, such as detecting salient events to guide goal-directed behavior in decision-making tasks. Projections between the insula and medial Prefrontal Cortex (mPFC) - observed both in rats and humans - also suggest a function for the insula in the integration of autonomic responses with ongoing behavior and emotion. Although studies in humans and nonhuman animals have tried to describe the role of those structures in decision making tasks, their findings are not uniform and a possible causal relationship between those areas, as well as the description of their functional interaction, is still unclear. Given those projections, this research proposal aims to explore the role of the insula and mPFC in decision-making in rats during a gambling task involving uncertainty and delay. Specifically, we will assess the effects of bilateral pharmacological inactivations of the insula or mPFC (experiment I); ipsilateral or contralateral pharmacological inactivation of the insula and CPFm experiment II); and the ipsilateral or contralateral pharmacological inactivation of the insula and single-unit recordings of neural activity in mPFC, and vice versa (experiment III). The results of this project have relevance in the understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in encoding of uncertainty of reinforcement. (AU)

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