On Aug 12, 2021, Peter Balsam, the Samuel R. Milbank Professor of Psychology at Barnard College, alongside Eleanor Simpson, Eduardo Gallo, Jonathan Javitch, and Christoph Kellendonk, published an article in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, titled “How changes in dopamine D2 receptor levels alter striatal circuit function and motivation.” In this paper, the researchers investigate the relationship between striatal dopamine and clinical phenotypes and the disease trajectory of schizophrenia. Specifically, the authors examine the locations and downstream pathways of the dopamine receptors using several mouse models.
By altering the dopamine receptor levels in several brain regions, cell-types, and developmental periods, the researchers were able to observe the behavioral electrophysiological and anatomical consequences. Their findings show that dopamine receptors have distinct physiological roles throughout the different cell types and developmental periods, which means that they occasionally regulate motivated behavior in opposing ways. The study has important clinical implications for the treatment of schizophrenia.