Gambling on Dopamine

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Science  21 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5614, pp. 1856-1858
DOI: 10.1126/science.1083627

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Midbrain dopamine neurons are important for motor control, motivation, effort, reward, analgesia, stress, learning, attention, and cognition. In a Perspective, Shizgal and Arvanitogiannis explore new findings ( Fiorillo et al. ) revealing a gradual increase in the firing rate of midbrain dopamine neurons in anticipation of uncertain rewards. This firing pattern may serve to heighten attention during uncertainty, thus promoting the learning of better predictors of reward.