Dopamine is implicated in movement, learning, and motivation, and in illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Little is known about the control of dopamine release in humans, but research in experimental animals suggests that the prefrontal cortex plays an important role in regulating the release of dopamine in subcortical structures. Here we used [(11)C]raclopride and positron emission tomography to measure changes in extracellular dopamine concentration in vivo after repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in healthy human subjects. Repetitive TMS of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex caused a reduction in [(11)C]raclopride binding in the left dorsal caudate nucleus compared with rTMS of the left occipital cortex. There were no changes in binding in the putamen, nucleus accumbens, or right caudate. This shows that rTMS of the prefrontal cortex induces the release of endogenous dopamine in the ipsilateral caudate nucleus. This finding has implications for the therapeutic and research use of rTMS in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

J Neurosci 2001 Aug 1;21(15):RC157
Strafella AP, Paus T, Barrett J, Dagher A.
Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2B4.