Thirst-associated preoptic neurons encode an aversive motivational drive

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Science  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6356, pp. 1149-1155
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan6747

Thirst-quenching neural mechanisms

To maintain homeostasis, physiological imbalances produce motivational drives. Thirst is one of the strongest drives. Allen et al. identified a distinct population of neurons in a brain region called the median preoptic nucleus that are activated during thirst (see the Perspective by Gizowski and Bourque). The activity of these neurons integrates the recent history of water intake and adaptively regulates goal-directed behavior. When thirsty, animals consume water, which in turn reduces the aversive activity of the neurons. This action is repeated until the level of aversion falls below the threshold necessary to evoke this behavior.

Science, this issue p. 1149; see also p. 1092

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