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Unexpected rewards induce dopamine-dependent positive emotion–like state changes in bumblebees

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Science  30 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6307, pp. 1529-1531
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4454

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Abstract

Whether invertebrates exhibit positive emotion–like states and what mechanisms underlie such states remain poorly understood. We demonstrate that bumblebees exhibit dopamine-dependent positive emotion–like states across behavioral contexts. After training with one rewarding and one unrewarding cue, bees that received pretest sucrose responded in a positive manner toward ambiguous cues. In a second experiment, pretest consumption of sucrose solution resulted in a shorter time to reinitiate foraging after a simulated predator attack. These behavioral changes were abolished with topical application of the dopamine antagonist fluphenazine. Further experiments established that pretest sucrose does not simply cause bees to become more exploratory. Our findings present a new opportunity for understanding the fundamental neural elements of emotions and may alter the view of how emotion states affect decision-making in animals.

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