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      Ventral tegmental area: cellular heterogeneity, connectivity and behaviour

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      Nature Reviews Neuroscience

      Springer Nature

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          Abstract

          Dopamine-releasing neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) have central roles in reward-related and goal-directed behaviours. VTA dopamine-releasing neurons are heterogeneous in their afferent and efferent connectivity and, in some cases, release GABA or glutamate in addition to dopamine. Recent findings show that motivational signals

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          A Neural Substrate of Prediction and Reward

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            Dopamine in motivational control: rewarding, aversive, and alerting.

            Midbrain dopamine neurons are well known for their strong responses to rewards and their critical role in positive motivation. It has become increasingly clear, however, that dopamine neurons also transmit signals related to salient but nonrewarding experiences such as aversive and alerting events. Here we review recent advances in understanding the reward and nonreward functions of dopamine. Based on this data, we propose that dopamine neurons come in multiple types that are connected with distinct brain networks and have distinct roles in motivational control. Some dopamine neurons encode motivational value, supporting brain networks for seeking, evaluation, and value learning. Others encode motivational salience, supporting brain networks for orienting, cognition, and general motivation. Both types of dopamine neurons are augmented by an alerting signal involved in rapid detection of potentially important sensory cues. We hypothesize that these dopaminergic pathways for value, salience, and alerting cooperate to support adaptive behavior. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              The debate over dopamine's role in reward: the case for incentive salience.

              Debate continues over the precise causal contribution made by mesolimbic dopamine systems to reward. There are three competing explanatory categories: 'liking', learning, and 'wanting'. Does dopamine mostly mediate the hedonic impact of reward ('liking')? Does it instead mediate learned predictions of future reward, prediction error teaching signals and stamp in associative links (learning)? Or does dopamine motivate the pursuit of rewards by attributing incentive salience to reward-related stimuli ('wanting')? Each hypothesis is evaluated here, and it is suggested that the incentive salience or 'wanting' hypothesis of dopamine function may be consistent with more evidence than either learning or 'liking'. In brief, recent evidence indicates that dopamine is neither necessary nor sufficient to mediate changes in hedonic 'liking' for sensory pleasures. Other recent evidence indicates that dopamine is not needed for new learning, and not sufficient to directly mediate learning by causing teaching or prediction signals. By contrast, growing evidence indicates that dopamine does contribute causally to incentive salience. Dopamine appears necessary for normal 'wanting', and dopamine activation can be sufficient to enhance cue-triggered incentive salience. Drugs of abuse that promote dopamine signals short circuit and sensitize dynamic mesolimbic mechanisms that evolved to attribute incentive salience to rewards. Such drugs interact with incentive salience integrations of Pavlovian associative information with physiological state signals. That interaction sets the stage to cause compulsive 'wanting' in addiction, but also provides opportunities for experiments to disentangle 'wanting', 'liking', and learning hypotheses. Results from studies that exploited those opportunities are described here. In short, dopamine's contribution appears to be chiefly to cause 'wanting' for hedonic rewards, more than 'liking' or learning for those rewards.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Neuroscience
                Nat Rev Neurosci
                Springer Nature
                1471-003X
                1471-0048
                January 5 2017
                January 5 2017
                : 18
                : 2
                : 73-85
                Article
                10.1038/nrn.2016.165
                28053327
                © 2017
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