The dopamine system is known to mediate reward. A reward
has two main properties: its reinforcement property (for
learning) and its motivational property (for energizing responses).
We are using mouse genetics to manipulate dopamine neuron
firing, dopamine release and dopamine receptor signaling
pathways to examine how properties of dopamine neurons and
postsynaptic signal integration in the striatum/nucleus accumbens
are able to mediate reinforcement learning and incentive
motivation. We are also interested in the biochemical basis
of dopamine neuron degeneration in Parkinson's disease.
Further information on Xiaoxi Zhuang's research.