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Publication Spotlight: Calipari Lab

January 11, 2022


Publication Spotlight - Calipari LabCongratulations to Kutlu et al and the Calipari Lab at Vanderbilt University, who recently published a paper in Current Biology, entitled “Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens core signals perceived saliency”DOI:


Reward Prediction Error (RPE) is the difference between a predicted reward and the actual received reward. Information encoding for dopamine neurons innervating the nucleus accumbens (NAc) is modeled with RPE. RPE of dopamine states that learning occurs when outcomes are not perfectly predicted – i.e. dopamine neural activity increases during unexpected rewards, remains at baseline during predicted rewards, and decreases when less reward is received than expected. Kutlu et al replicated the RPE theory for positive reinforcement in the NAc, but found that RPE did not properly predict dopamine responses during negative reinforcement.

What TDT equipment was used?

The RZ5P – which is the predecessor to TDT’s RZ10X for fiber photometry! Kutlu et al used the RZ5P and Synapse software to record dopamine (dLight) from the NAc core. Behavior cues were also synchronized with fiber photometry through the RZ5P.

Main Findings:

Kutlu et al recorded the dopamine response in the NAc across several behavioral tasks reinforced by different valenced outcomes. This data was combined with optogenetics, modeling, and machine learning to predict dopamine encoding with behavior. Kutlu et al found that dopamine tracks with signal salience – meaning that regardless of the reinforcement type (positive or negative), the dopamine response increased as the intensity of the stimuli increased.

For a more detailed explanation, click here to see the excellent Twitter thread Kutlu posted on his paper.

Research Focus of the Lab:

The Calipari lab is interested in defining neural dysfunction during neuropsychiatric disease. Their two main research foci are:

  • Identifying neural circuits that guide future behavior during positive and negative stimuli
  • Determining the molecular drivers of dysregulation during maladaptation

Follow @TheCalipariLab on Twitter


Written by Jessica Falcone, PhD


Tags:   NAcRZ5PdopaminedLightpublication spotlightfiber photometry