Beyond reward: Role of mesolimbic dopamine in learning, decision-making & addiction
Monday, November 16, 2015
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
LSRC B101 (Love Auditorium)
Regina Carelli, Associate Chair, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dopamine has traditionally been considered the brain's "pleasure juice", activated when organisms encounter rewards of any kind. However, recent views support a more complex role of the mesolimbic system in reward-related processing involving mechanisms of learning, memory, motivation, decision-making and behavior. Professor Carelli will present research from her lab that strives to tease apart these components on a neural level under normal conditions, and understand how this system becomes maladaptive in drug addiction. Using electrophysiological and electrochemical methods in behaving rats, she and her colleagues show the dynamic nature of dopamine and cellular signaling in a key neural substrate of the mesolimbic system, the nucleus accumbens, during cues signaling natural or drug rewards. Building upon this work, she will show how dopamine is engaged during decision-making tasks involving effort, delay, risk and delay discounting. Professor Carelli will also consider how her findings relate to competing theories (prediction error versus incentive salience) on how dopamine contributes to associative learning and behavior.