Heterogeneity in striatal dopamine circuits: Form and function in dynamic reward seeking

Anne L. Collins, Benjamin T. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The striatal dopamine system has long been studied in the context of reward learning, motivation, and movement. Given the prominent role dopamine plays in a variety of adaptive behavioral states, as well as diseases like addiction, it is essential to understand the full complexity of dopamine neurons and the striatal systems they target. A growing number of studies are uncovering details of the heterogeneity in dopamine neuron subpopulations. Here, we review that work to synthesize current understanding of dopamine system heterogeneity across three levels, anatomical organization, functions in behavior, and modes of action, wherein we focus on signaling profiles and local mechanisms for modulation of dopamine release. Together, these studies reveal new and emerging dimensions of the striatal dopamine system, informing its contribution to dynamic motivational and decision-making processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1046-1069
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grants DA007234 and DA042895. Figure was created with Biorender.com. We thank members of the Saunders lab, as well as Kurt Fraser, Frank Collins, and Jeffrey Bye for their thoughtful input on this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • accumbens
  • acetylcholine
  • dopamine
  • reward
  • striatum
  • substantia nigra
  • ventral tegmental area


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