Maladaptive striatal plasticity and abnormal reward-learning in cervical dystonia

Tom Gilbertson (Lead / Corresponding author), Mark Humphries , Douglas Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In monogenetic generalized forms of dystonia, in vitro neurophysiological recordings have demonstrated direct evidence for abnormal plasticity at the level of the cortico-striatal synapse. It is unclear whether similar abnormalities contribute to the pathophysiology of cervical dystonia, the most common type of focal dystonia. We investigated whether abnormal cortico-striatal synaptic plasticity contributes to abnormal reward-learning behavior in patients with focal dystonia. Forty patients and 40 controls performed a reward gain and loss avoidance reversal learning task. Participant's behavior was fitted to a computational model of the basal ganglia incorporating detailed cortico-striatal synaptic learning rules. Model comparisons were performed to assess the ability of four hypothesized receptor specific abnormalities of cortico-striatal long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD): increased or decreased D1:LTP/LTD and increased or decreased D2: LTP/LTD to explain abnormal behavior in patients. Patients were selectively impaired in the post-reversal phase of the reward task. Individual learning rates in the reward reversal task correlated with the severity of the patient's motor symptoms. A model of the striatum with decreased D2:LTP/ LTD best explained the patient's behavior, suggesting excessive D2 cortico-striatal synaptic depotentiation could underpin biased reward-learning in patients with cervical dystonia. Reversal learning impairment in cervical dystonia may be a behavioral correlate of D2-specific abnormalities in cortico-striatal synaptic plasticity. Reinforcement learning tasks with computational modeling could allow the identification of molecular targets for novel treatments based on their ability to restore normal reward-learning behavior in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3191-3204
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume50
Issue number7
Early online date7 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • basal ganglia
  • cervical dystonia
  • cortico-striatal plasticity
  • reinforcement learning
  • reward prediction error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience

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