Striatal dopamine mediates hallucination-like perception in mice

K. Schmack, M. Bosc, T. Ott, J. F. Sturgill, A. Kepecs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Hallucinations, a central symptom of psychotic disorders, are attributed to excessive dopamine in the brain. However, the neural circuit mechanisms by which dopamine produces hallucinations remain elusive, largely because hallucinations have been challenging to study in model organisms. We developed a task to quantify hallucination-like perception in mice. Hallucination-like percepts, defined as high-confidence false detections, increased after hallucination-related manipulations in mice and correlated with self-reported hallucinations in humans. Hallucination-like percepts were preceded by elevated striatal dopamine levels, could be induced by optogenetic stimulation of mesostriatal dopamine neurons, and could be reversed by the antipsychotic drug haloperidol. These findings reveal a causal role for dopamine-dependent striatal circuits in hallucination-like perception and open new avenues to develop circuit-based treatments for psychotic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number51
Issue number6537
StatePublished - Apr 2 2021


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