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Behav Neurosci. 2002 Aug;116(4):539-52.

Disruption of Pavlovian contextual conditioning by excitotoxic lesions of the nucleus accumbens core.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Nucleus accumbens (NAcc) core lesions were performed either before or after Pavlovian aversive conditioning. NAcc core lesions had no effect on discrete-cue or contextual conditioned freezing during acquisition. During retention testing, neither pre- nor posttraining lesions had any effect on conditioned freezing to the discrete cue. However, pretraining lesions resulted in a profound impairment of contextual conditioned freezing in a retention test, and posttraining lesions resulted in a smaller impairment. NAcc core lesions had no effect on sensory or motor processes, as measured by shock reactivity and spontaneous locomotor activity. These results suggest that during acquisition, processes independent of the NAcc core mediate contextual conditioned freezing, but that the NAcc is implicated in the retention of this aversive memory.

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