Mesolimbocortical and nigrostriatal dopamine responses to salient non-reward events (2000)

Neuroscience. 2000;96(4):651-6.

Horvitz JC1.


While it has previously been assumed that mesolimbic dopamine neurons carry a reward signal, recent data from single-unit, microdialysis and voltammetry studies suggest that these neurons respond to a large category of salient and arousing events, including appetitive, aversive, high intensity, and novel stimuli. Elevations in dopamine release within mesolimbic, mesocortical and nigrostriatal target sites coincide with arousal, and the increase in dopamine activity within target sites modulates a number of behavioral functions.

However, because dopamine neurons respond to a category of salient events that extend beyond that of reward stimuli, dopamine levels are not likely to code for the reward value of encountered events. The paper (i) examines evidence showing that dopamine neurons respond to salient and arousing change in environmental conditions, regardless of the motivational valence of that change, and (ii) asks how this might shape our thinking about the role of dopamine systems in goal-directed behavior.