Dopamine signals related to appetitive and aversive events in paradigms that manipulate reward and avoidability

Brain Res. 2019 Jun 15;1713:80-90. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2018.10.008. Epub 2018 Oct 6.


Using environmental cues to acquire good and avoid harmful things is critical for survival. Rewarding and aversive outcomes both drive behavior through reinforcement learning and sometimes occur together in the environment, but it remains unclear how these signals are encoded within the brain and if signals for positive and negative reinforcement are encoded similarly. Recent studies demonstrate that the dopaminergic system and interconnected brain regions process both positive and negative reinforcement necessary for approach and avoidance behaviors, respectively. Here, we review these data with a special focus on behavioral paradigms that manipulate both expected reward and the avoidability of aversive events to reveal neural correlates related to value, prediction error encoding, motivation, and salience.

Keywords: Appetitive; Aversive; Dopamine; Fast scan cyclic voltammetry; Negative reinforcement; Positive reinforcement; Rat; Reward; Single neuron.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Neurons
  • Nucleus Accumbens
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Reward


  • Dopamine