Dopamine, fronto-striato-thalamic circuits and risk for psychosis

Schizophr Res. 2017 Feb;180:48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.08.020. Epub 2016 Aug 29.


A series of parallel, integrated circuits link distinct regions of prefrontal cortex with specific nuclei of the striatum and thalamus. Dysfunction of these fronto-striato-thalamic systems is thought to play a major role in the pathogenesis of psychosis. In this review, we examine evidence from human and animal investigations that dysfunction of a specific dorsal fronto-striato-thalamic circuit, linking the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, dorsal (associative) striatum, and mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus, is apparent across different stages of psychosis, including prior to the onset of a first episode, suggesting that it represents a candidate risk biomarker. We consider how abnormalities at distinct points in the circuit may give rise to the pattern of findings seen in patient populations, and how these changes relate to disruptions in dopamine, glutamate and GABA signaling.

Keywords: Dopamine; Fronto-striato-thalamic; GABA; Glutamate; Resting-state; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / diagnostic imaging
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / metabolism*
  • Risk
  • Thalamus / diagnostic imaging
  • Thalamus / metabolism*


  • Dopamine