We used the highly selective D2/D3 dopamine PET radioligand [F-18]fallypride to demonstrate that cognitive task induced dopamine release can be measured in the extrastriatal region of the thalamus, a region containing 10-fold fewer D2 dopamine receptors than the striatum. Human studies were acquired on 8 healthy volunteers using a single [F-18]fallypride injection PET imaging session. A spatial attention task, previously demonstrated to increase FDG uptake in the thalamus, was initiated following a period of radioligand uptake. Thalamic dopamine release was statistically tested by measuring time-dependent alterations in the kinetics (focusing on specific binding) of the [F-18]fallypride using the linearized extension of the simplified reference region model. Voxel-based analysis of the dynamic PET data sets revealed a high correlation (r = 0.86, P = 0.0067) between spatial attention task performance and thalamic dopamine release. Various aspects of the kinetic model were analyzed to address concerns such as blood flow artifacts and model bias, as well as issues with task timing and regional variations in D2/D3 receptor density. In addition to the thalamus, measurement of dopamine neuromodulation using [F-18]fallypride and a single injection PET protocol can be extended to other extrastriatal regions of the brain, such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and regions of the temporal cortex. However, issues of task timing and detection sensitivity will vary depending on regional D2/D3 dopamine receptor density. Measurements of extrastriatal dopamine neuromodulation hold great promise to further our understanding of extrastriatal dopamine involvement in normal cognition and neuropsychiatric pathology. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.