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Nat Commun. 2016 Oct 27;7:13218. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13218.

Cell-type-specific modulation of targets and distractors by dopamine D1 receptors in primate prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Animal Physiology, Institute of Neurobiology, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 28, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is crucial for maintaining relevant information in working memory and resisting interference. PFC neurons are strongly regulated by dopamine, but it is unknown whether dopamine receptors are involved in protecting target memories from distracting stimuli. We investigated the prefrontal circuit dynamics and dopaminergic modulation of targets and distractors in monkeys trained to ignore interfering stimuli in a delayed-match-to-numerosity task. We found that dopamine D1 receptors (D1Rs) modulate the recovery of task-relevant information following a distracting stimulus. The direction of modulation is cell-type-specific: in putative pyramidal neurons, D1R inhibition enhances and D1R stimulation attenuates coding of the target stimulus after the interference, while the opposite pattern is observed in putative interneurons. Our results suggest that dopaminergic neuromodulation of PFC circuits regulates mental representations of behaviourally relevant stimuli that compete with task-irrelevant input and could play a central role for cognitive functioning in health and disease.

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