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Behav Brain Res. 1997 Oct;88(1):27-34.

Latent inhibition: the nucleus accumbens connection revisited.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


It has been proposed that dopaminergic transmission in the nucleus accumbens plays a key role in regulating latent inhibition (LI), i.e. the retardation of conditioning that occurs if a to-be-conditioned stimulus is first presented a number of times ('preexposure') without other consequence. New evidence in support of this hypothesis is presented or reviewed here, showing that: (1) intra-accumbens injection of haloperidol at the time of conditioning potentiates LI; (2) destruction of dopaminergic terminals in the nucleus accumbens potentiates LI; (3) intra-accumbens haloperidol reverses the blockade of LI caused by systemic nicotine; (4) intra-accumbens haloperidol reverses the blockade of LI caused by systemic amphetamine; (5) after a single systemic injection of amphetamine (insufficient on its own to block LI), a subsequent intra-accumbens injection of amphetamine at the time of conditioning blocks LI; and (6) intra-accumbens (like systemic) amphetamine administered 15 min before conditioning, without prior systemic amphetamine, failed to block LI. The difference between the effects on LI of one and two administrations of amphetamine, respectively, is interpreted in terms of the need for sensitisation of the response to amphetamine, with the result that the response to the second administration includes a component of impulse-dependent dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens that is otherwise lacking. Data from dialysis experiments suggest that such impulse-dependent accumbens dopamine release also occurs at relatively long delays after a single systemic administration of amphetamine. It was accordingly predicted, and found, that, although LI is intact 15 min after an i.p. injection (confirming previous results), it is abolished at 90 min after the injection of amphetamine. This finding is consistent with the effects of amphetamine in human subjects, in whom LI is blocked 90 min after a single oral administration. Overall, these results strengthen the case that the blockade of LI by elevated, and potentiation of LI by decreased, dopaminergic transmission are both due specifically to actions in the nucleus accumbens; and also add to the similarities between LI studied in animal and human subjects, respectively.

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