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Exploring Behavioral Flexibility Through Deep Brain Stimulation: Insights from a Two-Armed Spatial Restless Bandit Task in Rat

Grant number: 24/03808-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2024
Effective date (End): July 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Physiological Psychology
Principal Investigator:Amanda Ribeiro de Oliveira
Grantee:Isabelle Waku
Supervisor: Alik S Widge
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Minnesota (U of M), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:21/05022-9 - Effects of deep brain stimulation of the ventral capsule/ventral striatum and of the subtalamic nucleus on the performance of rats in behavioral flexibility tasks., BP.DR


Cognitive control, the ability to make flexible, goal-oriented decisions, is a critical trait often impaired in various mental disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and addiction. To restore proper functioning, treatment strategies such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) have increasingly focused on targeted circuit-based neuromodulation. One of the main target areas for DBS is the VC/VS, and its modulation appears to enhance behavioral flexibility. Another noteworthy aspect of mental disorders is the occurrence of sex-based differences in prevalence, presentation, and treatment response. Therefore, we propose to modulate the mid-striatum (a region homologous to VC/VS) using DBS to explore the specific circuits associated with behavioral flexibility during a two-armed spatial restless bandit task in rats while also investigating potential sex differences. The two-armed bandit task is a well-studied behavioral paradigm that allows for the measurement of behavioral flexibility in both rodents and humans. To achieve this, we will employ Long-Evans rats in two main experiments: 1. Implementation of the two-armed spatial restless bandit task for rats, using both males and females, to establish the necessary baseline conditions for subsequent experiments; 2. Evaluation of the effects of mid-striatum DBS on behavioral flexibility during the two-armed bandit task in both male and female rats. We anticipate that mid-striatal DBS will influence the ability to dynamically adapt strategies in the bandit task, possibly leading to more optimal decision-making. Additionally, we expect to observe sex-dependent differences in these processes.

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