Behavioral encoding across timescales by region-specific dopamine dynamics

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The dorsal (DS) and ventral striatum (VS) receive dopaminergic projections that control motor functions and reward-related behavior. It remains poorly understood how dopamine release dynamics across different temporal scales in these regions are coupled to behavioral outcomes. Here, we employ the dopamine sensor dLight1.3b together with multiregion fiber photometry and machine learning-based analysis to decode dopamine dynamics across the striatum during self-paced exploratory behavior in mice. Our data show a striking coordination of rapidly fluctuating signal in the DS, carrying information across dopamine levels, with a slower signal in the VS, consisting mainly of slow-paced transients. Importantly, these release dynamics correlated with discrete behavioral motifs, such as turns, running, and grooming on a subsecond-to-minute time scale. Disruption of dopamine dynamics with cocaine caused randomization of action selection sequencing and disturbance of DS-VS coordination. The data suggest that distinct dopamine dynamics of DS and VS jointly encode behavioral sequences during unconstrained activity with DS modulating the stringing together of actions and VS the signal to initiate and sustain the selected action.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2215230120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Research areas

  • cocaine, dopamine release, dopamine sensors, machine learning, mouse behavior

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