Original Article | Published:

Striatal Dopamine Mediates the Interface between Motivational and Cognitive Control in Humans: Evidence from Genetic Imaging

Neuropsychopharmacology volume 35, pages 19431951 (2010) | Download Citation

Abstract

Dopamine has been hypothesized to provide the basis for the interaction between motivational and cognitive control. However, there is no evidence for this hypothesis in humans. We fill this gap by using fMRI, a novel behavioral paradigm and a common polymorphism in the DAT1 gene (SLC6A3). Carriers of the 9-repeat (9R) allele of a 40 base pair repeat polymorphism in the 3′ untranslated region of DAT1, associated with high striatal dopamine, showed greater activity in the ventromedial striatum during reward anticipation than homozygotes for the 10-repeat allele, replicating previous genetic imaging studies. The crucial novel finding is that 9R carriers also exhibited a greater influence of anticipated reward on switch costs, as well as greater activity in the dorsomedial striatum during task switching in anticipation of high reward relative to low reward. These data establish a crucial role for human striatal dopamine in the modulation of cognitive flexibility by reward anticipation, thus, elucidating the neurochemical mechanism of the interaction between motivation and cognitive control.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Carline van der Pol for the structural MRI analysis, Marlies Naber and Johanne Groothuismink for genotyping, and Sabine Kooijman for collecting the samples. This work was supported by a VICI grant of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research to AR; RCH was supported by a grant from the Alkemade-Keuls foundation.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    • Esther Aarts
    • , Ardi Roelofs
    • , Barbara Franke
    • , Mark Rijpkema
    • , Guillén Fernández
    • , Rick C Helmich
    •  & Roshan Cools
  2. Department of Psychiatry, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    • Esther Aarts
    • , Barbara Franke
    •  & Roshan Cools
  3. Department of Human Genetics, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    • Barbara Franke
  4. Department of Neurology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    • Guillén Fernández
    •  & Rick C Helmich
  5. Parkinson Centre Nijmegen (ParC), Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    • Rick C Helmich

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Competing interests

The authors declare that, except for income received from primary employers, no financial support or compensation has been received from any individual or corporate entity over the past 3 years for research or professional service and there are no personal financial holdings that could be perceived as constituting a potential conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Esther Aarts.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2010.68

Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Neuropsychopharmacology website (http://www.nature.com/npp)

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