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Nat Neurosci. 2005 Apr;8(4):484-9. Epub 2005 Mar 27.

The subthalamic nucleus exerts opposite control on cocaine and 'natural' rewards.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie de la Cognition, Unité Mixte de Recherche 6155 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Université de Provence, 13402 Marseille Cedex 20, France.


A challenge in treating drug addicts is preventing their pathological motivation for the drug without impairing their general affective state toward natural reinforcers. Here we have shown that discrete lesions of the subthalamic nucleus greatly decreased the motivation of rats for cocaine while increasing it for food reward. The subthalamic nucleus, a key structure controlling basal ganglia outputs, is therefore able to oppositely modulate the effect of 'natural' rewards and drugs of abuse on behavior. Modulating the activity of the subthalamic nucleus might prove to be a new target for the treatment of cocaine addiction.

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