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Everyone agrees that dopamine is a critical modulator of behavior, but exactly which internal processes are modulated, and how? Reinforcement learning theory has become a standard framework for investigating adaptive choice behavior, and there is considerable evidence that fast fluctuations in striatal dopamine signal reward prediction error - a learning signal that alters future behavior by adjusting reward expectations. However, there is also considerable evidence that dopamine affects current behavior by modulating motivation. I will present recent work from my laboratory using state-of-the-art voltammetry, microdialysis, electrophysiology and optogenetics to evaluate and (perhaps) reconcile these distinct views of dopamine function.

Host: Mark Walton