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The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) plays a critical role in CNS circuits that provide for attention, executive function, reward responses, motivation and movement. DA is inactivated by the cocaine- and amphetamine-sensitive DA transporter (DAT), a protein that also provides a pathway for non-vesicular DA release. After a brief review of DAT function and psychostimulant actions, we consider the importance DAT in relation to the distinct firing patterns of DA neurons that permit awareness of novelty and reward. Finally, we review recent efforts to gather direct support for DAT-linked disorders, with a specific focus on DAT mutations recently identified in subjects with ADHD.