Skip to main content
Log in

Responses of tonically discharging neurons in the monkey striatum to primary rewards delivered during different behavioral states

  • Published:
Experimental Brain Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


In the primate striatum, the tonically discharging neurons respond to conditioned stimuli associated with reward. We investigated whether these neurons respond to the reward itself and how changes in the behavioral context in which the reward is delivered might influence their responsiveness. A total of 286 neurons in the caudate nucleus and putamen were studied in two awake macaque monkeys while liquid reward was delivered in three behavioral situations: (1) an instrumental task, in which reward was delivered upon execution of a visually triggered arm movement; (2) a classically conditioned task, in which reward was delivered 1 s after a visual signal; (3) a free reward situation, in which reward was delivered at irregular time intervals outside of any conditioning task. The monkeys′ uncertainty about the time at which reward will be delivered was assessed by monitoring their mouth movements. A larger proportion of neurons responsive to reward was observed in the free reward situation (86%) than in the classically conditioned (57%) and instrumental tasks (37%). Among the neurons tested in all situations (n = 78), 24% responded to reward regardless of the situation and 65% in only one or two situations. Responses selective for one particular situation occurred exclusively in the free reward situation. When the reward was delivered immediately after the visual signal in the classically conditioned task, most of the neurons reduced or completely lost their responses to reward, and other neurons remained responsive. Conversely, neuronal responses invariably persisted when reward was delivered later than 1 s after the visual signal. This is the first report that tonic striatal neurons might display responses directly to primary rewards. The neuronal responses were strongly influenced by the behavioral context in which the animals received the reward. An important factor appears to be the timing of reward. These neurons might therefore contribute to a general aspect of behavioral reactivity of the subject to relevant stimuli.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Received: 16 September 1996 / Accepted: 1 April 1997

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Apicella, P., Legallet, E. & Trouche, E. Responses of tonically discharging neurons in the monkey striatum to primary rewards delivered during different behavioral states. Exp Brain Res 116, 456–466 (1997).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: