The dopaminergic neurons of the in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) are a key element in the evaluation of the motivational value of a stimulus, in the detection of reward prediction errors and in motivational learning. These multiple roles make these neurons an crucial component of motivational and adaptive behaviors. From physiological to pathological, dopaminergic neurons are thus involved in psychopathologies associated with disturbances of emotional or hedonic states such as addiction or depression. Associated with the functions of the VTA, recent progress in our understanding of the physiology of dopaminergic neurons has highlighted major roles of the balance between their inhibitory and excitatory afferences. This balance, partly GABA/glutamate, is essential in the ability of dopaminergic neurons to integrate information.
Combining in vivo single cell electrophysiology, neuroanatomy and behavioral analysis, we study the activity of dopaminergic neurons and the circuits that regulate them