Ventral Tegmental Dopamine Neurons Control the Impulse Vector during Motivated Behavior.
The ventral tegmental area (VTA) is a major source of dopamine, especially to the limbic brain regions. Despite decades of research, the function of VTA dopamine neurons remains controversial. Here, using a novel head-fixed behavioral system with five orthogonal force sensors, we show for the first time that the activity of dopamine neurons precisely represents the impulse vector (force exerted over time) generated by the animal. Distinct populations of VTA dopamine neurons contribute to components of the impulse vector in different directions. Optogenetic excitation of these neurons shows a linear relationship between signal injected and impulse generated. Optogenetic inhibition paused force generation or produced force in the backward direction. At the same time, these neurons also regulate the initiation and execution of anticipatory licking. Our results indicate that VTA dopamine controls the magnitude, direction, and duration of force used to move toward or away from any motivationally relevant stimuli.
Hughes, RN; Bakhurin, KI; Petter, EA; Watson, GDR; Kim, N; Friedman, AD; Yin, HH
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)