Neuropeptide Co-Release with Gaba May Explain Functional Non-Monotonic Uncertainty Responses in Dopamine Neurons
Tan, Can Ozan
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Co-release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and the neuropeptide substance-P (SP) from single axons is a conspicuous feature of the basal ganglia, yet its computational role, if any, has not been resolved. In a new learning model, co-release of GABA and SP from axons of striatal projection neurons emerges as a highly efficient way to compute the uncertainty responses that are exhibited by dopamine (DA) neurons when animals adapt to probabilistic contingencies between rewards and the stimuli that predict their delivery. Such uncertainty-related dopamine release appears to be an adaptive phenotype, because it promotes behavioral switching at opportune times. Understanding the computational linkages between SP and DA in the basal ganglia is important, because Huntington's disease is characterized by massive SP depletion, whereas Parkinson's disease is characterized by massive DA depletion.