Effects of intra-amygdala R(+) 7-OH-DPAT on intra-accumbens d-amphetamine-associated learning II. Instrumental conditioning
- Cite this article as:
- Hitchcott, P. & Phillips, G. Psychopharmacology (1998) 140: 310. doi:10.1007/s002130050772
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Rats were trained to associate an initially neutral conditioned stimulus (CS) with a response-independent, intra-accumbens infusion of d-amphetamine (the unconditioned stimulus; US). Elsewhere, we have reported that as a result of this training, presentations of the CS alone elicited a conditioned response consisting of increased locomotor activity and that acquisition of this conditioned response was enhanced by post-session, intra-amygdala infusion of the dopamine D3 receptor preferring agonist, R(+) 7-OH-DPAT. Here, in this same group of animals, we have examined the conditioned rewarding properties of the drug-associated CS by determining its ability to support the acquisition of a novel instrumental response in the absence of drug reward. Thus, rats were presented with two novel levers. Presentation of the drug-associated CS was made contingent upon depression of one of the levers (CR lever), while responding upon the other lever (NCR lever) had no programmed consequences. Preferential responding upon the lever delivering the drug-associated CS was observed despite a 6-week interval between CS-US training and the conditioned reward test. Intra-accumbens administration of d-amphetamine (0–20 μg) increased the control over behaviour exerted by the CS, increasing CR, but not NCR lever responding. In contrast, rats that received three pairings of an intra-accumbens infusion of d-amphetamine in combination with intra-amygdala infusion of R(+) 7-OH-DPAT, 3 weeks prior to testing, displayed similar rates of response upon both levers and were insensitive to the potentiation of responding for conditioned reward following intra-accumbens d-amphetamine. However, intra-accumbens d-amphetamine stimulated locomotor activity in a similar, dose-related manner in both groups. In this way, rats that had received intra-accumbens infusion of d-amphetamine in combination with intra-amygdala infusion of R(+) 7-OH-DPAT appeared exactly like control group rats, for which the CS had been paired with intra-accumbens d-amphetamine on a negative basis only. A locomotor activity test indicated that one behavioural consequence of intra-amygdala administration of R(+) 7-OH-DPAT was the reduction of the unconditioned locomotor response resulting from intra-accumbens administration of d-amphetamine. Hence, the present data demonstrate that the conditioned rewarding properties of a drug-associated CS are specific to the CS-US association and are relatively insensitive to decay over time. However, the rewarding properties of a drug-associated CS were selectively abolished following activation of amygdala D3 receptors during presentation of the drug reward. Potential explanations for this effect are discussed, including the possibility that intra-amygdala R(+) 7-OH-DPAT reduced the incentive value of the US.