The pharmacology of effort-related choice behavior: Dopamine, depression, and individual differences

Salamone, John D.; Correa, Merce; Yohn, Samantha; Lopez Cruz, Laura; San Miguel, Noemi and Alatorre, Luisa (2016). The pharmacology of effort-related choice behavior: Dopamine, depression, and individual differences. Behavioural Processes, 127 pp. 3–17.



This review paper is focused upon the involvement of mesolimbic dopamine (DA) and related brain systems in effort-based processes. Interference with DA transmission affects instrumental behavior in a manner that interacts with the response requirements of the task, such that rats with impaired DA transmission show a heightened sensitivity to ratio requirements. Impaired DA transmission also affects effort-related choice behavior, which is assessed by tasks that offer a choice between a preferred reinforcer that has a high work requirement vs. less preferred reinforcer that can be obtained with minimal effort. Rats and mice with impaired DA transmission reallocate instrumental behavior away from food-reinforced tasks with high response costs, and show increased selection of low reinforcement/low cost options. Tests of effort-related choice have been developed into models of pathological symptoms of motivation that are seen in disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. These models are being employed to explore the effects of conditions associated with various psychopathologies, and to assess drugs for their potential utility as treatments for effort-related symptoms. Studies of the pharmacology of effort-based choice may contribute to the development of treatments for symptoms such as psychomotor slowing, fatigue or anergia, which are seen in depression and other disorders.

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