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Brain Res. 1996 Dec 2;742(1-2):17-24.

Rapid sampling of extracellular dopamine in the rat prefrontal cortex during food consumption, handling and exposure to novelty.

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  • 1Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam.


We report the effects of physiological stimuli on extracellular dopamine (DA) in the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) of the rat determined on-line in dialysates obtained every 5.5 min. The detection limit for DA was 0.03-0.1 pg/5 microl injection using a conventional HPLC set-up. Basal levels in PFC were at the detection limit, therefore 3 microM nomifensine was included in the Ringer perfusion fluid, producing readily detectable DA levels of 0.9 pg/injection. Perfusion with 3 microM TTX for 30 min decreased DA within 11 min to 10% of control. The routine use of rapid sampling of extracellular DA was applied to study cortical DA release in relation to behaviour. Exposure to a novel environment for 5.5 min led to an increase to 135%. Presentation of a food pellet to food-deprived rats resulted in a rapid increase to 150% within 5.5 min, which lasted 30-40 min, which is 10-20 min more than the time spent eating. Handling the rat for 5.5 min increased DA in PFC within 5.5 min to 160% and in 11 min to 190% of control followed by a 25-min period of a 50% increase, probably reflecting increased arousal. The results suggest that emotional arousal is a common denominator of increased cortical DA release and that responses are graded depending on the intensity of the stimulus.

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