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Prog Brain Res. 2000;126:433-53.

Role for dopamine in the behavioral functions of the prefrontal corticostriatal system: implications for mental disorders and psychotropic drug action.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh 15260, USA. jentsch@brain.bns.pitt.edu


We have discussed the role of dopamine in modulating the interactions between cortical and striatal regions that are involved in behavioral regulation. The evidence reviewed seems to suggest that dopamine acts, overall, to promote stimulus-induced responding for conditioned or reward-related stimuli by integrative actions at multiple forebrain sites. It is thus not surprising that dopaminergic dysfunction has been implicated in a number of neuropsychiatric disorders that involve abnormal cognitive and affective function. Future studies aimed at pinpointing the precise anatomical sites of action and molecular mechanisms involved in dopaminergic transmission within the corticolimbic circuit are critical for trying to disentangle the cellular mechanisms by which dopamine exerts its actions. Moreover, the afferent control of dopamine neurons from brainstem and forebrain sites need to be fully explored in order to begin to understand what mechanisms are involved in regulating the dopaminergic response to stimuli with incentive value. Finally, the post-synaptic consequences of prolonged and supranormal dopaminergic activation need to be investigated in order to understand what persistent neuroadaptations result from chronic activation of this neuromodulatory system (e.g. in drug addiction). Answers to these sorts of questions will undoubtedly provide important insights into the nature of dopaminergic function in the animal and human brain.

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