The role dopamine plays in reward-related behaviors has been debated for decades. Heymann et al. (Heymann G, Jo YS, Reichard KL, McFarland N, Chavkin C, Palmiter RD, Soden ME, Zweifel LS. Neuron 105: 909-920, 2020) identify subpopulations of dopamine-producing neurons that separately mediate reward association and motivation. Their results help demonstrate that dopamine signaling may partake in both reinforcement learning and incentive salience functions, instantiated by neuropeptide-defined subpopulations of the ventral tegmental area with different projection targets.
Keywords: dopamine; neuropeptides; reward; ventral tegmental area.