Original Article | Published:

Dopamine Receptor-Specific Contributions to the Computation of Value

Neuropsychopharmacology volume 43, pages 14151424 (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Dopamine is thought to play a crucial role in value-based decision making. However, the specific contributions of different dopamine receptor subtypes to the computation of subjective value remain unknown. Here we demonstrate how the balance between D1 and D2 dopamine receptor subtypes shapes subjective value computation during risky decision making. We administered the D2 receptor antagonist amisulpride or placebo before participants made choices between risky options. Compared with placebo, D2 receptor blockade resulted in more frequent choice of higher risk and higher expected value options. Using a novel model fitting procedure, we concurrently estimated the three parameters that define individual risk attitude according to an influential theoretical account of risky decision making (prospect theory). This analysis revealed that the observed reduction in risk aversion under amisulpride was driven by increased sensitivity to reward magnitude and decreased distortion of outcome probability, resulting in more linear value coding. Our data suggest that different components that govern individual risk attitude are under dopaminergic control, such that D2 receptor blockade facilitates risk taking and expected value processing.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Olivier Toubia and Eric Johnson for helpful input regarding model fitting and Robert Schreiber and Linda Horvath for help with data collection. This work was supported by funding from Swiss National Science Foundation grants PDFMP1-123113/1 (to ARB), PP00P1_128574, PP00P1_150739, and 00014_165884 (to PNT), University of Zurich Forschungskredit grant FK-16-016 (to CJB), and ERC advanced grant 295642 (to EF).

Author contributions

Conceptualization: CJB, AS, SW, ARB, and PNT; methodology: CJB, AS, and PNT; formal analysis: CJB, AS, and PNT; investigation: CJB, AS, ARB, and HH; writing (original draft: CJB and PNT; writing (review and editing): CJB, AS, EF, and PNT; supervision: PNT; funding acquisition: EF and PNT.

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Affiliations

  1. Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research, Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

    • Christopher J Burke
    • , Alexander Soutschek
    • , Susanna Weber
    • , Anjali Raja Beharelle
    • , Ernst Fehr
    •  & Philippe N Tobler
  2. Translational Neuromodeling Unit, Institute for Biomedical Engineering, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

    • Helene Haker

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Correspondence to Christopher J Burke.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2017.302

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