Inverted-U-shaped correlation between dopamine receptor availability in striatum and sensation seeking

Albert Gjedde, Yoshitaka Kumakura, Paul Cumming, Jakob Linnet, Arne Møller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sensation seeking is a core personality trait that declines with age in both men and women, as do also both density and availability of the dopamine D2/3 receptors in striatum and cortical regions. In contrast, novelty seeking at a given age relates inversely to dopamine receptor availability. The simplest explanation of these findings is an inverted-U-shaped correlation between ratings of sensation seeking on the Zuckerman scale and dopamine D 2/3 receptor availability. To test the claim of an inverted-U-shaped relation between ratings of the sensation-seeking personality and measures of dopamine receptor availability, we used PET to record [11C]raclopride binding in striatum of 18 healthy men. Here we report that an inverted-U shape significantly matched the receptor availability as a function of the Zuckerman score, withmaximumbinding potentials observed in the midrange of the scale. The inverted-U shape is consistent with a negative correlation between sensation seeking and the reactivity ("gain") of dopaminergic neurotransmission to dopamine. The correlation reflects Zuckerman scores that are linearly linked to dopamine receptor densities in the striatum but nonlinearly linked to dopamine concentrations. Higher dopamine occupancy and dopamine concentrations explain the motivation that drives afflicted individuals to seek sensations, in agreement with reduced protection against addictive behavior that is characteristic of individuals with low binding potentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3870-3875
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 23 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopaminergic neurotransmission
  • Inverted-U curve
  • Personality
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Raclopride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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