Dopamine modulates effort-based decision making in rats

Behav Neurosci. 2009 Apr;123(2):242-51. doi: 10.1037/a0014625.


Previous research has implicated dopamine as a modulating factor in choice behavior based on effort. The purpose of the present study was to determine the individual contribution of different dopamine receptors to effort-based decision making in rats. Rats were trained in a T-maze to choose a large-reward arm that contained 8 pellets of food over a small-reward arm that contained 2 pellets of food. The rats then were trained to climb progressively higher barriers to obtain the food from the large-reward arm. Using a discounting procedure on each test day, it was found that rats were more likely to choose the small-reward arm after treatment with the D1 antagonist, SCH-23390, or the D2 antagonist, haloperidol. The dopamine agonist, D-amphetamine, biased the rats toward choosing the large-reward arm and blunted the effects of SCH-23390 or haloperidol. Treatment with the D3 receptor antagonist, U99194, or the D3 receptor agonist, 7-OH-DPAT, did not alter choice behavior. These data indicate that D1 and D2 receptors are required for decisions based on effort.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects
  • Decision Making / drug effects
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Haloperidol / pharmacology
  • Indans / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Reward
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Indans
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • SCH 23390
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes
  • (5,6-dimethoxyindan-2-yl)dipropylamine
  • Haloperidol
  • 7-hydroxy-2-N,N-dipropylaminotetralin
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Dopamine