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Pauses in the firing of tonically-active cholinergic interneurons (ChIs) in the striatum coincide with phasic activation of dopamine neurons during reinforcement learning. However, how this pause influences cellular substrates of learning is unclear. Using two in vivo paradigms, we report that long-term potentiation (LTP) at corticostriatal synapses with spiny projection neurons (SPNs) is dependent on the temporal coincidence of ChI pause and dopamine phasic activation, critically accompanied by SPN depolarization.

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