Reframing dopamine: A controlled controller at the limbic-motor interface

Kevin Lloyd, Peter Dayan

Pavlovian influences notoriously interfere with operant behaviour. Evidence suggests this interference sometimes coincides with the release of the neuromodulator dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens. Suppressing such interference is one of the targets of cognitive control. Here, using the example of omission behaviour, we examine the possibility that one instrument of control is the direct manipulation of the DA signal itself.

In particular, when instrumental and Pavlovian influences come into conflict, DA levels might be affected by the controlled deployment of a reframing mechanism that recasts the prospect of possible punishment as an opportunity to approach safety, and, in the current example, the prospect of future reward in terms of a possible loss of that reward (Fig. 1e). We operationalize this reframing mechanism and fit the resulting model to rodent behaviour from a Go/No-Go task in which accumbens DA release was also measured (Figs 1a-d). We show that in addition to matching animals' behaviour (Figs 1b,c), the model predicts DA transients that capture key features of observed DA release (Figs 1f-h), supporting the idea that modulation of this neuromodulator is amongst the repertoire of cognitive control strategies.

Go to Editor View