Researchers have thus far been unable to define how dopamine influences cocaine reward. A recent report published in Neuron has shown that cocaine administration increases dopamine levels in the striatum, activating a signaling pathway that was previously unknown.
Illustration of the pathway by which dopamine may induce reward. Dopamine activates dopamine receptor 1 (DA1R), which initiates a biochemical chain of events leading to excitation.
Credit: Nagoya University