Glossary

avoidance learning A behavioral test in which subjects can avoid a noxious stimulus if a correct response is elicited.

G protein A guanine nucleotide-binding regulatory protein that mediates the interaction between extracellular receptors and intracellular effector molecules. The Gi protein is the inhibitory G protein that reduces subsequent intracellular effects. The Gs protein is the stimulatory G protein that increases subsequent intracellular effects.

intracranial self-stimulation A task in which subjects are rewarded with electrical stimulation to brain areas such as the medial forebrain bundle.

operant task A task in which an animal is rewarded for making a particular motor response such as a bar press.

Dopamine (3-Hydroxytyramine) was initially characterized as a neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous system during the 1950s. Although comprising less than 1% of the neurons in the brain, dopamine mediates a variety of physiological functions and modulates many behavioral states. Given the paucity of noninvasive techniques to study dopamine in the central nervous system (CNS) of humans, most studies characterizing the role of dopamine in the brain have been carried out in experimental animals or tissue culture expression systems or by extrapolation from human responses to dopaminergic drugs. With the relatively recent development of more sophisticated neuroimaging techniques, however, studies of dopamine function in the human brain are increasing. Since the focus of this encyclopedia is the human brain, studies using humans are emphasized. Data from animal studies or tissue culture expression systems are presented when there is a lack of data from human subjects or when specific examples illuminate the human literature.

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