Psychopharmacology of conditioned reward: evidence for a rewarding signal at D1-like dopamine receptors
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A neutral stimulus can acquire conditioned rewarding properties through association with an intrinsically rewarding stimulus. The acquisition of responding for conditioned rewards requires that environmental stimuli and reward processes interact in a highly specific manner; analyses of this phenomenon may provide valuable insight into the processes that underlie reward-related learning. The effects of dopaminergic agents with different mechanisms of action in this paradigm have revealed several interesting dissociations suggesting that a rewarding signal at dopamine D1-like receptors may mediate both the acquisition of rewarding properties by neutral stimuli and their ability to control behavior. Dopamine-induced changes in responding for conditioned reward are susceptible to modulation by other neurotransmitter systems. In many cases, the molecular and cellular bases of these interactions support the notion that signaling through D1-like receptors is critical for a conditioned reward to direct responding. The model outlined in this paper reflects a comprehensive integration of the existing literature in the field, and has several implications that are readily testable by future research. Moreover, given the known biochemical coupling of D1-like receptors, this model may help in characterizing the sequence of intracellular events, from signal transduction to possible transcriptional and/or translational regulation, that give rise to the acquisition of rewarding properties by neutral stimuli.
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