The Detection of Novelty Relies on Dopaminergic Signaling: Evidence from Apomorphine's Impact on the Novelty N2

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Mauricio Rangel-Gomez
  • Clayton Hickey
  • Therese van Amelsvoort
  • Pierre Bet
  • Martijn Meeter

External organisations

  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Maastricht University
  • Amsterdam University Medical Centre


Despite much research, it remains unclear if dopamine is directly involved in novelty detection or plays a role in orchestrating the subsequent cognitive response. This ambiguity stems in part from a reliance on experimental designs where novelty is manipulated and dopaminergic activity is subsequently observed. Here we adopt the alternative approach: we manipulate dopamine activity using apomorphine (D1/D2 agonist) and measure the change in neurological indices of novelty processing. In separate drug and placebo sessions, participants completed a von Restorff task. Apomorphine speeded and potentiated the novelty-elicited N2, an Event-Related Potential (ERP) component thought to index early aspects of novelty detection, and caused novel-font words to be better recalled. Apomorphine also decreased the amplitude of the novelty-P3a. An increase in D1/D2 receptor activation thus appears to potentiate neural sensitivity to novel stimuli, causing this content to be better encoded.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66469
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2013