Opinion

The short-latency dopamine signal: a role in discovering novel actions?

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Abstract

An influential concept in contemporary computational neuroscience is the reward prediction error hypothesis of phasic dopaminergic function. It maintains that midbrain dopaminergic neurons signal the occurrence of unpredicted reward, which is used in appetitive learning to reinforce existing actions that most often lead to reward. However, the availability of limited afferent sensory processing and the precise timing of dopaminergic signals suggest that they might instead have a central role in identifying which aspects of context and behavioural output are crucial in causing unpredicted events.

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Acknowledgements

This work has been supported by the Wellcome Trust (P.R.) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (K.G. and P.R.). For their helpful discussions and/or comments on early drafts of the manuscript the authors would like to acknowledge J. Berke, J. Reynolds, A. Seth, E. Salinas, T. Stanford, J. McHaffie, T. Prescott, P. Overton and T. Dickinson.

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  1. Peter Redgrave and Kevin Gurney are at the Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TP, UK.

    • Peter Redgrave
    •  & Kevin Gurney

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Peter Redgrave.