Dopamine-producing neurons fire with both basal level tonic patterns and phasic bursts. Varying affinities of the five dopamine receptors have led to a hypothesis that higher affinity receptors are primarily activated by basal level tonic dopamine, while lower affinity receptors may be tuned to be sensitive to higher levels caused by phasic bursts. Genetically modified mice provide a method to begin to probe this hypothesis. Here we discuss three mouse models. Dopamine-deficient mice were used to determine which behaviors require dopamine. These behaviors were then analyzed in mice lacking D1 receptors and in mice with reduced phasic dopamine release. Comparison of the latter two mouse models revealed a similar failure to learn about and respond normally to cues that indicate either a positive or negative outcome, giving support to the hypothesis that phasic dopamine release and the D1 receptor act in the same pathway. However, the D1 receptor likely has additional roles beyond those of phasic dopamine detection, because D1 receptor knockout mice have deficits in addition to what has been observed in mice with reduced phasic dopamine release.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology