The roles of dopamine and related compounds in reward-seeking behavior across animal phyla

Front Behav Neurosci. 2010 Oct 12:4:163. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00163. eCollection 2010.


Motile animals actively seek out and gather resources they find rewarding, and this is an extremely powerful organizer and motivator of animal behavior. Mammalian studies have revealed interconnected neurobiological systems for reward learning, reward assessment, reinforcement and reward-seeking; all involving the biogenic amine dopamine. The neurobiology of reward-seeking behavioral systems is less well understood in invertebrates, but in many diverse invertebrate groups, reward learning and responses to food rewards also involve dopamine. The obvious exceptions are the arthropods in which the chemically related biogenic amine octopamine has a greater effect on reward learning and reinforcement than dopamine. Here we review the functions of these biogenic amines in behavioral responses to rewards in different animal groups, and discuss these findings in an evolutionary context.

Keywords: biogenic amine; catecholamine; dopamine; motivation; nucleus accumbens; octopamine; reward.