Heterogeneity in striatal dopamine circuits: Form and function in dynamic reward seeking

J Neurosci Res. 2020 Jun;98(6):1046-1069. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24587. Epub 2020 Feb 13.


The striatal dopamine system has long been studied in the context of reward learning, motivation, and movement. Given the prominent role dopamine plays in a variety of adaptive behavioral states, as well as diseases like addiction, it is essential to understand the full complexity of dopamine neurons and the striatal systems they target. A growing number of studies are uncovering details of the heterogeneity in dopamine neuron subpopulations. Here, we review that work to synthesize current understanding of dopamine system heterogeneity across three levels, anatomical organization, functions in behavior, and modes of action, wherein we focus on signaling profiles and local mechanisms for modulation of dopamine release. Together, these studies reveal new and emerging dimensions of the striatal dopamine system, informing its contribution to dynamic motivational and decision-making processes.

Keywords: accumbens; acetylcholine; dopamine; reward; striatum; substantia nigra; ventral tegmental area.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / physiology*


  • Dopamine