Striatal dopamine and the temporal control of behavior

Behav Brain Res. 2019 Jan 1;356:375-379. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.030. Epub 2018 Sep 10.


Striatal dopamine strongly regulates how individuals use time to guide behavior. Dopamine acts on D1- and D2- dopamine receptors in the striatum. However, the relative role of these receptors in the temporal control of behavior is unclear. To assess this, we trained rats on a task in which they decided to start and stop a series of responses based on the passage of time and evaluated how blocking D1 or D2-dopamine receptors in the dorsomedial or dorsolateral striatum impacted performance. D2 blockade delayed the decision to start and stop responding in both regions, and this effect was larger in the dorsomedial striatum. By contrast, dorsomedial D1 blockade delayed stop times, without significantly delaying start times, whereas dorsolateral D1 blockade produced no detectable effects. These findings suggest that striatal dopamine may tune decision thresholds during timing tasks. Furthermore, our data indicate that the dorsomedial striatum plays a key role in temporal control, which may be useful for localizing neural circuits that mediate the temporal control of action.

Keywords: Decision making; Decision threshold; Dopamine; Interval timing; Striatum; Time perception.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Neostriatum / drug effects*
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / metabolism
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Dopamine