A role for mesencephalic dopamine in activation: commentary on Berridge (2006)
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Ideas about the functions of the central dopamine (DA) system may seem to have evolved quite considerably in the last decade. While the theoretical debate based on classic neuropsychopharmacological approaches has become much more sophisticated and refined, perhaps the major new concepts have derived from (1) electrophysiological observations that fast phasic firing of cells in the ventral tegmental area appear to model an error prediction signal relevant to Pavlovian or temporal difference learning models (Schultz 2002), and from (2) the relative contributions of such phasic responses with the tonic mode of action of the same DA systems (Goto and Grace 2005). Both of these empirical advances were also matched by theoretical refinement; for example, in the domain of human cognitive neuroscience, the study of the role of DA in reinforcement learning and “error prediction” learning has become highly fashionable (see, e.g., Montague et al. 2004; Frank and O’Reilly 2006) and the...
KeywordsDopamine Accumbens Activation Basal ganglia Reward Reinforcement
Thanks are due to all of our colleagues who have contributed to these ideas, Kent Berridge, and an anonymous referee who both commented on a first draft. The University of Cambridge Behavioral and Clinical Neurosciences Institute is supported by a joint grant from the MRC and the Wellcome Trust. The work is also supported by an MRC Programme Grant to BJE, TWR, and A. Dickinson.
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