, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 390-397

6-Hydroxydopamine lesions of the nucleus accumbens, but not of the caudate nucleus, attenuate enhanced responding with reward-related stimuli produced by intra-accumbens d-amphetamine

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Abstract

Intra-accumbens d-amphetamine enhances responding for reward-related stimuli (conditioned reinforcers, CRs), whereas intra-caudate d-amphetamine has only weak and variable effects (Taylor and Robbins 1984). The present experiment further examined the involvement of the nucleus accumbens and the role of dopamine (DA) in this effect. Thirsty rats were trained to associate a flash of a light and movement of a dipper (CR) with water. After implantation of permanent guide cannulae aimed at the nucleus accumbens, they were assigned to one of four groups, receiving either bilateral 6-OHDA (4 mg/ml free base in 2 μ1 0.1% ascorbic acid/0.9% saline) or sham (vehicle) infusions into the nucleus accumbens or the caudate nucleus. In the test phase, two novel levers were available. Responding on one lever (CR lever) produced the light and dipper stimuli without water presentation, whereas responding on the other (NCR lever) had no effect. All four groups received four counterbalanced intra-accumbens infusions of d-amphetamine (3, 10, 20 μg/2 μl) or vehicle. On the 5th test day, subjects were pretreated subcutaneously with apomorphine (0.1 mg/kg). Intra-accumbens d-amphetamine in both sham-lesioned groups produced a dose-dependent increase in responding on the CR lever, but no significant change on the NCR lever. No selective increases in responding on either lever were found in animals with 6-OHDA-induced depletion of DA (>80%) in the nucleus accumbens following intra-accumbens d-amphetamine; however, in subjects with DA depletion of the posterior caudate nucleus (>80%), increases in responding on the CR lever were observed to be similar in magnitude to those of both the sham-lesioned groups. Following systemic administration of apomorphine, only rats in the nucleus-accumbens-lesioned group continued to respond, preferring the CR lever, thus suggesting the involvement of DA receptors in these effects. These results indicate that enhanced responding for CR following administration of psychomotor stimulant drugs is critically dependent on dopaminergic activation of the nucleus accumbens, rather than the caudate nucleus.