Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Phasic Firing Of Dopamine Neurons Is Key To Brain's Prediction Of Rewards

Date:
April 14, 2009
Source:
University of Texas at San Antonio
Summary:
Researchers are one step closer to understanding the neurobiology that allows people to successfully learn motivated behaviors by associating environmental cues with rewarding outcomes. Researchers studied the firing patterns of mid-brain dopamine neurons in mice during reward-based learning.

Researchers are one step closer to understanding the neurobiology that allows people to successfully learn motivated behaviors by associating environmental cues with rewarding outcomes, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Articles


Carlos Paladini, assistant professor of neuroscience at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and UTSA graduate student Collin Lobb collaborated with researchers at The University of Washington at Seattle to study the firing patterns of midbrain dopamine neurons in mice during reward-based learning.

"Our research findings provide a direct functional link between the bursting activity of midbrain dopamine neurons and behavior. The research has significant applications for the improvement of health, because the dopamine neurons we are studying are the same neurons that become inactivated during Parkinson's Disease and with the consumption of psychostimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine," said Paladini, who is also a member of UTSA's Neurosciences Institute.

Midbrain dopamine neurons fire in two characteristic modes, tonic and phasic, which are thought to modulate distinct aspects of behavior. When an unexpected reward is presented to an individual, midbrain dopamine neurons fire high frequency bursts of electrical activity. Those bursts of activity allow us to learn to associate the reward with cues in our environment, which may predict similar rewards in the future.

The burst of electrical spikes observed in dopamine neurons is facilitated by a protein called the NMDA receptor, which is expressed on the surface of the dopamine cells. In this study, researchers removed the NMDA receptor from the dopamine cells only, leaving the dopamine neurons unable to fire bursts. The cells would otherwise fire normally.

When researchers placed the mice in reward-based situations, they found that the mice without the NMDA receptor in their dopaminergic neurons could not learn tasks that required them to associate sensory cues with reward. Those same mice, however, were able to learn tasks that did not involve an association with rewards.

"Now that we know NMDA receptors are required for burst firing in dopamine neurons, we need to explore the mechanisms by which NMDA receptor-mediated bursting is regulated or gated," said Lobb, who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UTSA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at San Antonio. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Larry S. Zweifel, Jones G. Parker, Collin J. Lobb, Aundrea Rainwater, Valerie Z. Wall, Jonathan P. Fadok, Martin Darvas, Min J. Kim, Sheri J. Y. Mizumori, Carlos A. Paladini, Paul E. M. Phillips, and Richard D. Palmiter. Disruption of NMDAR-dependent burst firing by dopamine neurons provides selective assessment of phasic dopamine-dependent behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0813415106

Cite This Page:

University of Texas at San Antonio. "Phasic Firing Of Dopamine Neurons Is Key To Brain's Prediction Of Rewards." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090403144032.htm>.
University of Texas at San Antonio. (2009, April 14). Phasic Firing Of Dopamine Neurons Is Key To Brain's Prediction Of Rewards. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090403144032.htm
University of Texas at San Antonio. "Phasic Firing Of Dopamine Neurons Is Key To Brain's Prediction Of Rewards." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090403144032.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins