Dopamine release in human brain tracked at microsecond timescale reveals decision-making

A research team led by investigators at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute has demonstrated the first rapid measurements of dopamine release in a human brain and provided preliminary evidence that the neurotransmitter can be tracked in its movement between brain cells while a subject expresses decision-makingĀ behaviour.

“In an experiment where we measured dopamine release while a subject made investment decisions in a stock market trading game, we showed that dopamine tracks changes in the value of the market,” said Read Montague, director of the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and professor of physics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

“A startling discovery was that the dopamine signal appeared to be a very good indicator of the market value and in many instances a good predictor of future market changes,” said Kenneth Kishida, a postdoctoral associate with the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and the lead author on the report. Interestingly, the choice expressed by the subject did not always correspond with the prescient brain chemistry, he said.

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