Article abstract

Nature Neuroscience 9, 1057 - 1063 (2006)
Published online: 23 July 2006 | doi:10.1038/nn1743

Midbrain dopamine neurons encode decisions for future action

Genela Morris1,2, Alon Nevet2, David Arkadir2, Eilon Vaadia1,2 & Hagai Bergman1,2

Current models of the basal ganglia and dopamine neurons emphasize their role in reinforcement learning. However, the role of dopamine neurons in decision making is still unclear. We recorded from dopamine neurons in monkeys engaged in two types of trial: reference trials in an instructed-choice task and decision trials in a two-armed bandit decision task. We show that the activity of dopamine neurons in the decision setting is modulated according to the value of the upcoming action. Moreover, analysis of the probability matching strategy in the decision trials revealed that the dopamine population activity and not the reward during reference trials determines choice behavior. Because dopamine neurons do not have spatial or motor properties, we conclude that immediate decisions are likely to be generated elsewhere and conveyed to the dopamine neurons, which play a role in shaping long-term decision policy through dynamic modulation of the efficacy of basal ganglia synapses.

  1. Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation (ICNC), Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
  2. Hebrew University, Department of Physiology, PO Box 12272, Jerusalem 91220, Israel.

Correspondence to: Genela Morris1,2 e-mail:


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