Accumulating data support a critical involvement of dopamine in the modulation of neuronal activity related to cognitive processing. The amygdala is a major target of midbrain dopaminergic neurons and is implicated in learning and memory processes, particularly those involving associations between novel stimuli and reward. We used intracerebral microdialysis to directly sample extracellular dopamine in the human amygdala during the performance of cognitive tasks. The initial transition from rest to either a working memory or a reading task was accompanied by significant increases in extracellular dopamine concentration of similar magnitude. During a sustained word paired-associates learning protocol, increase in dopamine release in the amygdala related to learning performance. These data provide evidence for sustained activation of the human mesolimbic dopaminergic system during performance of cognitive tasks.