Dopamine system has two distinct functions: learning and motivation.
Dopamine is produced especially in the ventral tegmentum area (VTA). In the right circumstances, it then triggers neuronal activity in far-flung regions of the brain via long projecting axons. These regions include the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Mohebi et al’s research has found that regions such as NAc do not only experience dopamine release as a result of activation from the VTA. They conclude that the dopaminergic system has two distinct functions. Dopamine release from the VTA promotes learning through prediction error. On the other hand, local dopamine release in the NAc, for example, anticipates and maintains rewards. As a result, it underpins motivation.
Link to paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1235-y
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