Organization of dopamine and serotonin system: Anatomical and functional mapping of monosynaptic inputs using rabies virus

Sachie K. Ogawa, Mitsuko Watabe-Uchida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Dopamine and serotonin play critical roles in flexible behaviors and are related to various psychiatric and motor disorders. This paper reviews the global organization of dopamine and serotonin systems through recent findings using a modified rabies virus. We first introduce methods for comprehensive mapping of monosynaptic inputs. We then describe quantitative comparisons across the data regarding monosynaptic inputs to dopamine neurons versus serotonin neurons. There is surprising similarity between the input to dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the input to serotonin neurons in the dorsal raphe (DR), suggesting functional interactions between these systems. We next introduce studies of mapping monosynaptic inputs to subpopulations of dopamine neurons specified by their projection targets. It was found that the population of dopamine neurons that project to the tail of the striatum (TS) forms an anatomically distinct outlier, suggesting a unique function. From these series of anatomical studies, we propose that there are three information flows that regulate these neuromodulatory systems: the midline stream to serotonin neurons in median raphe (MR) and B6, the central stream to value-coding dopamine neurons and serotonin neurons in rostral DR, and the lateral stream to TS-projecting dopamine neurons. Finally we introduce a new approach to investigate firing patterns of monosynaptic inputs to dopamine neurons in behaving animals. Combining anatomical and physiological findings, we propose that within the central stream, dopamine neurons broadcast a central teaching signal rather than personal teaching signals to multiple brain areas, which are computed in a redundant way in multi-layered neural circuits. Examination of global organization of the dopamine and serotonin circuits not only revealed the complexity of the systems but also revealed some principles of their organization. We will also discuss limitations, practical issues and the possibility of future improvements of the rabies virus-mediated tracing system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 4 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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