Effects of dopaminergic modulation on the integrative properties of the ventral striatal medium spiny neuron

J Neurophysiol. 2007 Dec;98(6):3731-48. doi: 10.1152/jn.00335.2007. Epub 2007 Oct 3.


Dopaminergic modulation produces a variety of functional changes in the principal cell of the striatum, the medium spiny neuron (MSN). Using a 189-compartment computational model of a ventral striatal MSN, we simulated whole cell D1- and D2-receptor-mediated modulation of both intrinsic (sodium, calcium, and potassium) and synaptic currents (AMPA and NMDA). Dopamine (DA) modulations in the model were based on a review of published experiments in both ventral and dorsal striatum. To objectively assess the net effects of DA modulation, we combined reported individual channel modulations into either D1- or D2-receptor modulation conditions and studied them separately. Contrary to previous suggestions, we found that D1 modulation had no effect on MSN nonlinearity and could not induce bistability. In agreement with previous suggestions, we found that dopaminergic modulation leads to changes in input filtering and neuronal excitability. Importantly, the changes in neuronal excitability agree with the classical model of basal ganglia function. We also found that DA modulation can alter the integration time window of the MSN. Interestingly, the effects of DA modulation of synaptic properties opposed the effects of DA modulation of intrinsic properties, with the synaptic modulations generally dominating the net effect. We interpret this lack of synergy to suggest that the regulation of whole cell integrative properties is not the primary functional purpose of DA. We suggest that D1 modulation might instead primarily regulate calcium influx to dendritic spines through NMDA and L-type calcium channels, by both direct and indirect mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / physiology
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neostriatum / cytology
  • Neostriatum / physiology*
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Calcium
  • Dopamine