A central theory of basal ganglia function is that striatal neurons expressing the D1 and D2 dopamine receptors exert opposing brain-wide influences. However, the causal influence of each population has never been measured at the whole-brain scale. Here, we selectively stimulated D1 or D2 receptor-expressing neurons while visualizing whole-brain activity with fMRI. Excitation of either inhibitory population evoked robust positive BOLD signals within striatum, while downstream regions exhibited significantly different and generally opposing responses consistent with-though not easily predicted from-contemporary models of basal ganglia function. Importantly, positive and negative signals within the striatum, thalamus, GPi, and STN were all associated with increases and decreases in single-unit activity, respectively. These findings provide direct evidence for the opposing influence of D1 and D2 receptor-expressing striatal neurons on brain-wide circuitry and extend the interpretability of fMRI studies by defining cell-type-specific contributions to the BOLD signal.
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