The lateral preoptic area and ventral pallidum embolden behavior

  • Rhett A. ReichardEmail author
  • Kenneth P. Parsley
  • Suriya Subramanian
  • Hunter S. Stevenson
  • Zachary M. Schwartz
  • Tej Sura
  • Daniel S. ZahmEmail author
Original Article


While recently completing a study of the effects of stimulating the lateral preoptic area (LPO) and ventral pallidum (VP) on locomotion and other movements, we also noticed LPO and VP effects on motivational drive and threat tolerance. Here, we have investigated these latter effects by testing conditioned place preference (CPP), behavior on the elevated plus maze (EPM) and the willingness of sated rats to occupy a harshly lit open field center to acquire sweet pellets, a measure of threat tolerance, following infusions of vehicle or bicuculline (bic) into the LPO and VP. LPO-bic infusions robustly increased total locomotion, and, in direct proportion, occupancy of both the harshly lit field center and open arms of the EPM. LPO bic also generated CPP, but did not increase sweet pellet ingestion. These effects were attenuated by dopamine D1 and D2 receptor antagonists, whether given individually or as a cocktail and systemically or infused bilaterally into the nucleus accumbens. VP-bic infusions did not increase total locomotion, but preferentially increased field center occupancy. VP-bic-infused rats compulsively ingested sweet pellets and did so even under the spotlight, whereas harsh illumination suppressed pellet ingestion in the control groups. VP bic produced CPP and increased open arm occupancy on the EPM. These effects were attenuated by pretreatment with dopamine receptor antagonists given systemically or as bilateral infusions into the VP, except for % distance in the field center (by D1 or D2 antagonists) and pellet ingestion (by D1 antagonist). Thus, boldness generated in association with LPO activation is tightly tied to locomotor activation and, as is locomotion itself, strongly DA dependent, whereas that accompanying stimulation of the VP is independent of locomotor activation and, at least in part, DA signaling. Furthermore, respective emboldened behaviors elicited from neither LPO nor VP could clearly be attributed to goal pursuit. Rather, emboldening of behavior seems more to be a fixed action response not fundamentally different than previously for reported locomotion, pivoting, backing, gnawing, and eating elicited by basal forebrain stimulation.


Basal forebrain Anxiety Locomotion Decision Dopamine 





9(R)-(−)-bicuculline methbromide


Conditioned place preference


Dopamine D1 receptor


Dopamine D2 receptor


Elevated plus maze


S-(−)-eticlopride hydrobromide






Lateral preoptic area




Ventral pallidum

VP bi

VP, infused bilaterally

VP uni

VP, infused unilaterally


Ventral tegmental area



The work was supported by USPHS NIH grant NS-23805 to DSZ. RAR received support from USPHS NIH grant T32 GM008306.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Human Participants and/or Animals

There were no human subjects. Male Sprague–Dawley rats (Harlan, Indianapolis, IN) weighing 250–375 g were used in accordance with policy mandated in the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals ( provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with oversight by the Saint Louis University Animal Care Committee. Veterinary care was provided by the Saint Louis University Department of Comparative Medicine.

Ethical approval

All authors read and approved the final submitted manuscript.

Informed consent

There were no human subjects.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and PhysiologySaint Louis University School of MedicineSaint LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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