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Eur J Neurosci. 2003 May;17(10):2187-200.

Glutamate motivational ensembles in nucleus accumbens: rostrocaudal shell gradients of fear and feeding.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109, USA.


This study demonstrates that microinjection of an AMPA/kainate glutamate antagonist elicits motivated fear and feeding behaviour mapped along rostrocaudal gradients of positive-to-negative valence in nucleus accumbens shell (similar to rostrocaudal shell gradients recently reported for GABA agonist microinjections). Rats received rostral or caudal microinjections of the glutamate AMPA/kainate receptor antagonist DNQX (0, 50, 450 or 850 ng in 0.5 micro L) or the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 (0, 0.5, 1 or 2 micro g in 0.5 micro L), into medial accumbens shell prior to behavioural tests for fear, feeding or conditioning of place preference or avoidance. Another group received rostral or caudal microinjections of DNQX in nucleus accumbens core. Rostral shell DNQX microinjections potently increased appetitive food intake and established only weak conditioned place avoidance. Caudal shell DNQX microinjections elicited defensive treading behaviour, caused rats to defensively bite the experimenter and emit fearful distress vocalizations when handled, and established strong conditioned place avoidance. By contrast, no rostrocaudal gradients of motivational bivalence were produced by microinjections of the glutamate AMPA/kainate receptor antagonist DNQX into the core, or by microinjections of the NMDA antagonist MK-801 into the shell. Our results indicate that appetitive and aversive motivation is carried in anatomically differentiated channels by mesocorticolimbic glutamate signals to microcircuits in the medial shell. Hyperpolarization of local shell ensembles by AMPA/kainate glutamate receptor blockade elicits fear and feeding behaviours mapped along distinct positive-to-negative rostrocaudal gradients.

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