Dopamine: The neuromodulator of long-term synaptic plasticity, reward and movement control

Luisa Speranza, Umberto Di Porzio, Davide Viggiano, Antonio de Donato, Floriana Volpicelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Dopamine (DA) is a key neurotransmitter involved in multiple physiological functions including motor control, modulation of affective and emotional states, reward mechanisms, reinforcement of behavior, and selected higher cognitive functions. Dysfunction in dopaminergic transmission is recognized as a core alteration in several devastating neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and addiction. Here we will discuss the current insights on the role of DA in motor control and reward learning mechanisms and its involvement in the modulation of synaptic dynamics through different pathways. In particular, we will consider the role of DA as neuromodulator of two forms of synaptic plasticity, known as long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) in several cortical and subcortical areas. Finally, we will delineate how the effect of DA on dendritic spines places this molecule at the interface between the motor and the cognitive systems. Specifically, we will be focusing on PD, vascular dementia, and schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number735
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Dopamine
  • LTD
  • LTP
  • Motor control
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Reward
  • Schizophrenia
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Vascular dementia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Dopamine: The neuromodulator of long-term synaptic plasticity, reward and movement control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this