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Topological Organization of Ventral Tegmental Area Connectivity Revealed by Viral-Genetic Dissection of Input-Output Relations.

  • Author(s): Beier, Kevin T;
  • Gao, Xiaojing J;
  • Xie, Stanley;
  • DeLoach, Katherine E;
  • Malenka, Robert C;
  • Luo, Liqun
  • et al.

Viral-genetic tracing techniques have enabled mesoscale mapping of neuronal connectivity by teasing apart inputs to defined neuronal populations in regions with heterogeneous cell types. We previously observed input biases to output-defined ventral tegmental area dopamine (VTA-DA) neurons. Here, we further dissect connectivity in the VTA by defining input-output relations of neurochemically and output-defined neuronal populations. By expanding our analysis to include input patterns to subtypes of excitatory (vGluT2-expressing) or inhibitory (GAD2-expressing) populations, we find that the output site, rather than neurochemical phenotype, correlates with whole-brain inputs of each subpopulation. Lastly, we find that biases in input maps to different VTA neurons can be generated using publicly available whole-brain output mapping datasets. Our comprehensive dataset and detailed spatial analysis suggest that connection specificity in the VTA is largely a function of the spatial location of the cells within the VTA.

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