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AbstractWhile it is well established that dopamine transmission is integral in mediating the influence of reward expectations on reward-seeking actions, the precise causal role of dopamine transmission in moment-to-moment cue-driven behavioural control remains contentious. This is a particular issue in situations where it is necessary to refrain from responding to achieve a beneficial outcome. To examine this, we manipulated dopamine transmission pharmacologically as rats performed a Go/No-Go task that required them to either make or withhold action to gain either a small or large reward. Stimulation of D1Rs, both globally and locally in the nucleus accumbens core (NAcC) region consistently disrupted No-Go performance, potentiating inappropriate responses that clustered strongly just after cue presentation. D1R blockade did not, however, improve rats’ ability to withhold responses, but instead primarily disrupted performance on Go trials. While global D1R blockade caused a general reduction of invigoration of reward seeking actions, intra-NAcC administration of the D1R antagonist by contrast increased the likelihood that Go trial performance was in an “unfocused” state. Such a state was characterised, both on and off drug, by a reduction in the precision and speed of responding even though the appropriate action sequence was often executed. These findings suggests that the balance of activity at NAcC D1Rs plays a key role in enabling the rapid activation of a focused, reward-seeking state to enable animals to efficiently and accurately achieve their goal.

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