Neurons that use dopamine as a neurotransmitter are called dopaminergic neurons. Neurons that have dopamine receptor proteins on the postsynaptic membrane, and that therefore respond to dopamine, have been identified in postmortem brain tissue. More recently, the location of these receptors has been observed in the living brain using the technique of positron emission tomography (PET) (see chapter 8). These investigations have been spurred by the great clinical interest in the effects of dopaminergic neurons.
The cell bodies of dopaminergic neurons are highly concentrated in the midbrain. Their axons project to different parts of the brain and can be divided into two systems: the nigrostri-atal dopamine system, involved in motor control, and the mesolimbic dopamine system, involved in emotional reward (see chapter 8, fig. 8.18).
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