Differential contributions of striatal dopamine D1 and D2 receptors to component processes of value-based decision making


Dopamine has been implicated in value-based learning and decision making by signaling reward prediction errors and facilitating cognitive flexibility, incentive motivation, and voluntary movement. Dopamine receptors can roughly be divided into the D1 and D2 subtypes, and it has been hypothesized that these two types of receptors have an opposite function in facilitating reward-related and aversion-related behaviors, respectively. Here, we tested the contribution of striatal dopamine D1 and D2 receptors to processes underlying value-based learning and decision making in rats, employing a probabilistic reversal learning paradigm. Using computational trial-by-trial analysis of task behavior after systemic or intracranial treatment with dopamine D1 and D2 receptor agonists and antagonists, we show that negative feedback learning can be modulated through D2 receptor signaling and positive feedback learning through D1 receptor signaling in the ventral striatum. Furthermore, stimulation of D2 receptors in the ventral or dorsolateral (but not dorsomedial) striatum promoted explorative choice behavior, suggesting an additional function of dopamine in these areas in value-based decision making. Finally, treatment with most dopaminergic drugs affected response latencies and number of trials completed, which was also seen after infusion of D2, but not D1 receptor-acting drugs into the striatum. Together, our data support the idea that dopamine D1 and D2 receptors have complementary functions in learning on the basis of emotionally valenced feedback, and provide evidence that dopamine facilitates value-based and motivated behaviors through distinct striatal regions.

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Funding and disclosure

This work was supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement number 607310 (Nudge-IT). We thank Mauri van den Heuvel for help with the behavioral experiments. The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Louk J. M. J. Vanderschuren.

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Verharen, J.P.H., Adan, R.A.H. & Vanderschuren, L.J.M.J. Differential contributions of striatal dopamine D1 and D2 receptors to component processes of value-based decision making. Neuropsychopharmacol. 44, 2195–2204 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41386-019-0454-0

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