Mesoaccumbal Dopamine Heterogeneity: What Do Dopamine Firing and Release Have to Do with It?

Annual review of neuroscience(2022)

Cited 22|Views23
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Ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA) neurons are often thought to uniformly encode reward prediction errors. Conversely, DA release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), the prominent projection target of these neurons, has been implicated in reinforcement learning, motivation, aversion, and incentive salience. This contrast between heterogeneous functions of DA release versus a homogeneous role for DA neuron activity raises numerous questions regarding how VTA DA activity translates into NAc DA release. Further complicating this issue is increasing evidence that distinct VTA DA projections into defined NAc subregions mediate diverse behavioral functions. Here, we evaluate evidence for heterogeneity within the mesoaccumbal DA system and argue that frameworks of DA function must incorporate the precise topographic organization of VTA DA neurons to clarify their contribution to health and disease.
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