Tzvia Pinkhasov

Program: Neurosciences

Current advisor: Adam Kepecs, PhD

Undergraduate university: SUNY-Stony Brook

Research summary
Impulsivity, or lack of self-control, is a trait that cuts across psychiatric disorders and a behavioral state that fluctuates within all individuals. Dopamine (DA) has long been implicated in maladaptive behavior but is paradoxically necessary for optimizing behavior for rewards. We asked how DA could be involved in both optimal and suboptimal reward seeking, and whether dynamic changes in its activity could encode variations in impulsive reward seeking beyond reward predictions. We trained mice on separate tasks that isolated quantitative trial-by-trial measures of either reward approach or approach suppression and simultaneously recorded DA cell population activity in the Ventral Tegmental Area. We found that phasic DA, or synchronized bursts, predicted reward expectation and satiety. However, tonic DA uniquely predicted impulsivity. Here, we identified a double dissociation between phasic and tonic DA that bridges clinical and systems neuroscience perspectives of DA.


Graduate publications