Toward a Normative Understanding of Dopamine’s Function in the Brain

Speaker: Naoshige Uchida


Dopamine regulates multiple brain functions including learning, motivation and movement. Furthermore, the striatum, a major target of dopamine neurons, is parceled into multiple subregions that are associated with different types of behavior, such as Pavlovian, goal-directed, and habitual behaviors. An important question in the field is how dopamine regulates these diverse functions. It has been thought that midbrain dopamine neurons broadcast reward prediction error signals to drive reinforcement learning. However, recent studies have found more diverse dopamine signals than originally thought. How can we reconcile these results? In this talk, I will discuss our recent studies characterizing diverse dopamine signals, and how these findings can be understood in theoretical frameworks.

About the speaker:

Naoshige Uchida is a professor at the Center for Brain Science and Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. on his study on the molecular mechanism of synaptic adhesions done in Masatoshi Takeichi‘s laboratory at Kyoto University, Japan. He started studies of olfactory coding in Kensaku Mori‘s laboratory at the Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, Japan. He then joined Zachary F. Mainen‘s laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, USA, where he developed psychophysical olfactory decision tasks in rodents. He started his laboratory at Harvard University in 2006. His current research focuses on the neurobiology of decision-making and learning. The research topics include the neural computation in the midbrain dopamine system, functions of the cortico-basal ganglia circuit, foraging decisions, motor learning, and artificial intelligence. His research combines quantitative rodent behaviors with multi-neuronal recordings, two-photon microscopy, computational modeling, and modern tools such as optogenetics and viral neural circuit tracing.

Time and place:

May 28, 2021, 4:00 p.m. CEST

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