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Neuron. 2004 May 27;42(4):653-63.

Heterosynaptic dopamine neurotransmission selects sets of corticostriatal terminals.

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Department of Neurology, University of Washington, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, WA 98105 USA.


Dopamine input to the striatum is required for voluntary motor movement, behavioral reinforcement, and responses to drugs of abuse. It is speculated that these functions are dependent on either excitatory or inhibitory modulation of corticostriatal synapses onto medium spiny neurons (MSNs). While dopamine modulates MSN excitability, a direct presynaptic effect on the corticostriatal input has not been clearly demonstrated. We combined optical monitoring of synaptic vesicle exocytosis from motor area corticostriatal afferents and electrochemical recordings of striatal dopamine release to directly measure effects of dopamine at the level of individual presynaptic terminals. Dopamine released by either electrical stimulation or amphetamine acted via D2 receptors to inhibit the activity of subsets of corticostriatal terminals. Optical and electrophysiological data suggest that heterosynaptic inhibition was enhanced by higher frequency stimulation and was selective for the least active terminals. Thus, dopamine, by filtering less active inputs, appears to reinforce specific sets of corticostriatal synaptic connections.

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