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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 20;104(12):5181-6. Epub 2007 Mar 9.

Prefrontal/accumbal catecholamine system determines motivational salience attribution to both reward- and aversion-related stimuli.

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Santa Lucia Foundation, European Centre for Brain Research (CERC), Via del Fosso di Fiorano 65, 00143 Rome, Italy.


Recent evidence suggests that rewarding and aversive stimuli affect the same brain areas, including medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. Although nucleus accumbens is known to respond to salient stimuli, regardless of their hedonic valence, with selective increased dopamine release, little is known about the role of prefrontal cortex in reward- and aversion-related motivation or about the neurotransmitters involved. Here we find that selective norepinephrine depletion in medial prefrontal cortex of mice abolished the increase in the release of norepinephrine by prefrontal cortex and of dopamine by nucleus accumbens that is induced by food, cocaine, or lithium chloride and impaired the place conditioning induced by both lithium chloride (aversion) and food or cocaine (preference). This is evidence that prefrontal cortical norepinephrine transmission is necessary for motivational salience attribution to both reward- and aversion-related stimuli through modulation of dopamine in nucleus accumbens, a brain area involved in all motivated behaviors.

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