Although midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons have been thought to primarily encode reward prediction error (RPE), recent studies have also found movement-related DAergic signals. For example, we recently reported that DA neurons in mice projecting to dorsomedial striatum are modulated by choices contralateral to the recording side. Here, we introduce, and ultimately reject, a candidate resolution for the puzzling RPE vs movement dichotomy, by showing how seemingly movement-related activity might be explained by an action-specific RPE. By considering both choice and RPE on a trial-by-trial basis, we find that DA signals are modulated by contralateral choice in a manner that is distinct from RPE, implying that choice encoding is better explained by movement direction. This fundamental separation between RPE and movement encoding may help shed light on the diversity of functions and dysfunctions of the DA system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)