, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 123-130

Differential effects of excitotoxic lesions of the amygdala on cocaine-induced conditioned locomotion and conditioned place preference

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Abstract

The reinforcing properties of cocaine can readily become associated with salient environmental stimuli that acquire secondary reinforcing properties. This type of classical conditioning is of considerable clinical relevance, as intense drug craving can be evoked by the presentation of stimuli previously associated with the effects of cocaine. Given the large body of evidence that implicates the amygdaloid complex in the learning of stimulus-reward associations, the present experiments examined the effects of quinolinic acid lesions of the amygdala on cocaine-induced conditional locomotion and conditioned place preference (CPP). Destruction of the amygdala did not affect basal or cocaine-induced locomotion, suggesting that the amygdala does not mediate the unconditioned psychomotor stimulant effects of this drug. Preconditioning lesions also failed to affect cocaine-induced conditional locomotion. Specifically, exposure of both lesioned and non-lesioned rats to a cocaine-paired environment produced significant conditional increases in locomotion. This lack of effect was contrasted by a complete blockade of cocaine-induced CPP by the amygdaloid lesions. These data demonstrate that cocaine-induced stimulus-reward conditioning can be differentially affected by lesions of the amygdala.