Targeting the dopamine D1 receptor in schizophrenia: Insights for cognitive dysfunction

Patricia S. Goldman-Rakic, Stacy A. Castner, Torgny H. Svensson, Larry J. Siever, Graham V. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

480 Scopus citations


Background and rationale: Reinstatement of the function of working memory, the cardinal cognitive process essential for human reasoning and judgment, is potentially the most intractable problem for the treatment of schizophrenia. Since deficits in working memory are associated with dopamine dysregulation and altered D1 receptor signaling within prefrontal cortex, we present the case for targeting novel drug therapies towards enhancing prefrontal D 1 stimulation for the amelioration of the debilitating cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Objectives: This review examines the role of dopamine in regulating cellular and circuit function within prefrontal cortex in order to understand the significance of the dopamine dysregulation found in schizophrenia and related non-human primate models. By revealing the associations among prefrontal neuronal function, dopamine and D1 signaling, and cognition, we seek to pinpoint the mechanisms by which dopamine modulates working memory processes and how these mechanisms may be exploited to improve cognitive function. Results and conclusions: Dopamine deficiency within dorsolateral prefrontal cortex leads to abnormal recruitment of this region by cognitive tasks. Both preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated a direct relationship between prefrontal dopamine function and the integrity of working memory, suggesting that insufficient D1 receptor signaling in this region results in cognitive deficits. Moreover, working memory deficits can be ameliorated by treatments that augment D1 receptor stimulation, indicating that this target presents a unique opportunity for the restoration of cognitive function in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • D agonists
  • D dopamine receptor
  • Non-human primate
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Schizophrenia
  • Spatial working memory


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