Dopamine signaling occurs on a subsecond timescale, and its dysregulation is implicated in pathologies ranging from drug addiction to Parkinson's disease. Anatomic evidence suggests that some dopamine neurons have cross-hemispheric projections, but the significance of these projections is unknown. Here we report unprecedented interhemispheric communication in the midbrain dopamine system of awake and anesthetized rats. In the anesthetized rats, optogenetic and electrical stimulation of dopamine cells elicited physiologically relevant dopamine release in the contralateral striatum. Contralateral release differed between the dorsal and ventral striatum owing to differential regulation by D2-like receptors. In the freely moving animals, simultaneous bilateral measurements revealed that dopamine release synchronizes between hemispheres and intact, contralateral projections can release dopamine in the midbrain of 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rats. These experiments are the first, to our knowledge, to show cross-hemispheric synchronicity in dopamine signaling and support a functional role for contralateral projections. In addition, our data reveal that psychostimulants, such as amphetamine, promote the coupling of dopamine transients between hemispheres.
Keywords: dopamine; dorsal striatum; nucleus accumbens; synchrony; voltammetry.