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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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

External organisations

  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Maastricht University
  • Section of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


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