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Motivational state, reward value, and Pavlovian cues differentially affect skilled forelimb grasping in rats


Mosberger, Alice C; de Clauser, Larissa; Kasper, Hansjörg; Schwab, Martin E (2016). Motivational state, reward value, and Pavlovian cues differentially affect skilled forelimb grasping in rats. Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.), 23(6):289-302.

Abstract

Motor skills represent high-precision movements performed at optimal speed and accuracy. Such motor skills are learned with practice over time. Besides practice, effects of motivation have also been shown to influence speed and accuracy of movements, suggesting that fast movements are performed to maximize gained reward over time as noted in previous studies. In rodents, skilled motor performance has been successfully modeled with the skilled grasping task, in which animals use their forepaw to grasp for sugar pellet rewards through a narrow window. Using sugar pellets, the skilled grasping task is inherently tied to motivation processes. In the present study, we performed three experiments modulating animals’ motivation during skilled grasping by changing the motivational state, presenting different reward value ratios, and displaying Pavlovian stimuli. We found in all three studies that motivation affected the speed of skilled grasping movements, with the strongest effects seen due to motivational state and reward value. Furthermore, accuracy of the movement, measured in success rate, showed a strong dependence on motivational state as well. Pavlovian cues had only minor effects on skilled grasping, but results indicate an inverse Pavlovian-instrumental transfer effect on movement speed. These findings have broad implications considering the increasing use of skilled grasping in studies of motor system structure, function, and recovery after injuries.

Abstract

Motor skills represent high-precision movements performed at optimal speed and accuracy. Such motor skills are learned with practice over time. Besides practice, effects of motivation have also been shown to influence speed and accuracy of movements, suggesting that fast movements are performed to maximize gained reward over time as noted in previous studies. In rodents, skilled motor performance has been successfully modeled with the skilled grasping task, in which animals use their forepaw to grasp for sugar pellet rewards through a narrow window. Using sugar pellets, the skilled grasping task is inherently tied to motivation processes. In the present study, we performed three experiments modulating animals’ motivation during skilled grasping by changing the motivational state, presenting different reward value ratios, and displaying Pavlovian stimuli. We found in all three studies that motivation affected the speed of skilled grasping movements, with the strongest effects seen due to motivational state and reward value. Furthermore, accuracy of the movement, measured in success rate, showed a strong dependence on motivational state as well. Pavlovian cues had only minor effects on skilled grasping, but results indicate an inverse Pavlovian-instrumental transfer effect on movement speed. These findings have broad implications considering the increasing use of skilled grasping in studies of motor system structure, function, and recovery after injuries.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Brain Research Institute
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:21 Dec 2016 15:35
Last Modified:24 Aug 2017 03:10
Publisher:Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
ISSN:1072-0502
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/lm.039537.115

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