Mesencephalic dopaminergic unit activity in the behaviorally conditioned rat

Joseph D. Miller, Manjit K. Sanghera, Dwight C. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


The activity of single dopamine (DA)-containing cells in the medial substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area was recorded in awake behaving rats. These rats were trained, using either instrumental or classical conditioning techniques, to respond for chocolate milk reinforcement. More than 50% of the cells tested showed changes in firing pattern associated with some aspect of the conditioned response. Furthermore, the incidence of active DA cells and their firing rates were increased in animals given the DA receptor blocker, haloperidol. Our results indicate that some DA cells change their firing pattern following behaviorally relevant stimuli, and that the incidence of spontaneously active DA neurons is low in the awake rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1255-1263
Number of pages9
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 21 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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