Dopamine reward prediction-error signalling: a two-component response

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2016 Mar;17(3):183-95. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2015.26. Epub 2016 Feb 11.


Environmental stimuli and objects, including rewards, are often processed sequentially in the brain. Recent work suggests that the phasic dopamine reward prediction-error response follows a similar sequential pattern. An initial brief, unselective and highly sensitive increase in activity unspecifically detects a wide range of environmental stimuli, then quickly evolves into the main response component, which reflects subjective reward value and utility. This temporal evolution allows the dopamine reward prediction-error signal to optimally combine speed and accuracy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Dopamine