Dissociable dopaminergic control of saccadic target selection and its implications for reward modulation.
To investigate mechanisms by which reward modulates target selection, we studied the behavioral effects of perturbing dopaminergic activity within the frontal eye field (FEF) of monkeys performing a saccadic choice task and simulated the effects using a plausible cortical network. We found that manipulation of FEF activity either by blocking D1 receptors (D1Rs) or by stimulating D2 receptors (D2Rs) increased the tendency to choose targets in the response field of the affected site. However, the D1R manipulation decreased the tendency to repeat choices on subsequent trials, whereas the D2R manipulation increased that tendency. Moreover, the amount of shift in target selection resulting from the two manipulations correlated in opposite ways with the baseline stochasticity of choice behavior. Our network simulation results suggest that D1Rs influence target selection mainly through their effects on the strength of inputs to the FEF and on recurrent connectivity, whereas D2Rs influence the excitability of FEF output neurons. Altogether, these results reveal dissociable dopaminergic mechanisms influencing target selection and suggest how reward can influence adaptive choice behavior via prefrontal dopamine.