Ventral Tegmental Dopamine Neurons Control the Impulse Vector during Motivated Behavior.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hughes, RN; Bakhurin, KI; Petter, EA; Watson, GDR; Kim, N; Friedman, AD; Yin, HH

Published Date

  • July 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 14

Start / End Page

  • 2681 - 2694.e5

PubMed ID

  • 32470362

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7590264

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-0445

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0960-9822

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cub.2020.05.003


  • eng