Dopamine modulation of decision making processes

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The dopamine system has a number of functions in the brain, from regulation of movement to controlling emotional expression and facilitating cognitive or conscious processes. Dopamine exerts these actions via its regulation of systems interactions. In particular, the influence of this transmitter system on the balance of afferent input to the nucleus accumbens potently modulates ­decision-making processes. An increase in dopamine outflow potentiates afferents from the hippocampus subiculum, which are involved in context-dependent processes. In contrast, dopamine will also attenuate the ability of the prefrontal cortex to switch behavioral tasks. In this manner, the dopamine system is positioned to alter the propensity to focus conscious attention on a current task versus flexibly altering behavior to more effectively achieve goals.


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