Frequency of dopamine concentration transients increases in dorsal and ventral striatum of male rats during introduction of conspecifics

Donita L. Robinson, Michael L.A.V. Heien, R. Mark Wightman

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192 Scopus citations


Transient, elevated concentrations of extracellular dopamine were characterized in the dorsal and ventral striatum of male rats during solitude, brief interaction with a conspecific, and copulation. Conspecific rats were systematically presented to male rats and allowed to interact for 30 sec; the males were kept in solitude between each presentation. During these episodes, 125 dopamine concentration transients from 17 rats were detected with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry at carbon-fiber microelectrodes (peak amplitude, 210 ± 10 nM; duration, 530 ± 20 msec). The frequency of dopamine transients increased sixfold during conspecific episodes compared with solitude. However, the phasic dopamine activity habituated on the second presentation of the conspecifics. When males were allowed to copulate with receptive females, additional dopamine transients were observed at frequencies ∼20% of those during the previous interaction episodes. A subset of these transients immediately preceded intromission. Overall, phasic dopamine activity appeared to be associated with input from multiple sensory modalities and was followed by a variety of approach and appetitive behaviors, consistent with electrophysiological observations of dopaminergic neuron burst-firing. In summary, (1) dopamine concentration transients occur in awake rats during solitude, in the absence of overt external cues; (2) dopamine transients are significantly more frequent in the presence of a conspecific, although this effect habituates; and (3) dopamine transients are less frequent during copulation than during brief conspecific episodes. These results establish for the first time that transient dopamine fluctuations occur throughout the dorsal and ventral striatum and demonstrate that they are more frequent with salient stimuli that elicit a response behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10477-10486
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Copulation
  • Dopamine
  • Extracellular
  • Social interaction
  • Solitude
  • Voltammetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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