Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Dopaminergic organization of striatum is linked to cortical activity and brain expression of genes associated with psychiatric illness

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Science Advances  09 Jun 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 24, eabg1512
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg1512


Dopamine signaling is constrained to discrete tracts yet has brain-wide effects on neural activity. The nature of this relationship between local dopamine signaling and brain-wide neuronal activity is not clearly defined and has relevance for neuropsychiatric illnesses where abnormalities of cortical activity and dopamine signaling coexist. Using simultaneous PET-MRI in healthy volunteers, we find strong evidence that patterns of striatal dopamine signaling and cortical blood flow (an index of local neural activity) contain shared information. This shared information links amphetamine-induced changes in gradients of striatal dopamine receptor availability to changes in brain-wide blood flow and is informed by spatial patterns of gene expression enriched for genes implicated in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. These results advance our knowledge of the relationship between cortical function and striatal dopamine, with relevance for understanding pathophysiology and treatment of diseases in which simultaneous aberrations of these systems exist.

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